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Re: SPEC: Moreaea polystachya

From: "Patterson, Dallas" <nye@mail.fidalgo.net>

Hi Dorothy,

We ran into exactly the same problem, and we've never found a completely 
satisfactory answer. However, we did find the following information.

All About Bulbs by Ortho, 1981, 1986, pages 58 and 78-79; describes the plants 
with what I interpret as the botanical name followed by the botanical synonyms:

"D. bicolor (Moraea bicolor)...."

"D. iridoides (D. vegeta, Moraea vegeta, M. iridoides)...."

On page 78, the entry seems to imply that "M. iridoides and M. bicolor" 
actually belong to the genus Dietes. These species epithets are not repeated in 
the list of proper Moraea.

Sunset New Western Garden Book, Third printing, April 1979, Page 273, is even 
more confusing. The article heading, "DIETES (Moraea). FORTNIGHT LILY, AFRICAN 
IRIS." seems to suggest that the synonym for Dietes is Moraea. It proceeds to 
describe "D. bicolor" and "D. vegeta (D. iridoides, Moraea iridoides). This 
source does not clarify the differences between the rhizomes of Dietes and the 
corms of Moraea.

Our older and more comprehensive gardening encyclopedias have unceremoniously 
lumped the species into the single genus of Moraea. The articles discuss the 
corms and rhizomes of the species almost interchangeably. There is no listing 
for the genus Dietes in these gardening encyclopedias.

We've also found a variety of nomenclature for these plants on the Internet.

Judging from the many sources we've seen, it appears as though the species were 
earlier lumped into the genus Moraea, and more recently have been divided into 
the genera of Dietes and Moraea. The continued description of these plants in 
the horticultural trade as Moraea and Dietes seems to be consistent with the 
conservative approach of lagging behind changes of nomenclature by the 
botanical authorities. In other words, they seem to be "all mixed up as usual" 
<g>. Nonetheless, this is no more than speculation and guesswork on our part. 
Perhaps someone with access to the latest botanical and horticultural 
nomenclature authorities can bring us all up to date with the real stuff???

I hope you enjoy your Butterfly Iris as much as we have our own.

Dallas Patterson

DWiris@aol.com wrote:
> Dear Dallas,
> Actually, the Dietes were what I looked up after the Moraeas.  We visited our
> daughter in Thousand Oaks in June and saw huge clumps of Dietes bicolor and
> iridoides blooming all over the place.  We have started iridoides from SIGNA
> seed, but didn't get the bicolor.  So we bought potted plants and brought
> them home on the airplane.  We have access to part of a greenhouse and keep
> Dietes and Moraeas there for the winter.  I have one question that the bulb
> page didn't answer.  Nurseries seem to be selling the same plant as either
> Dietes iridoides or Moraea iridoides or Dietes vegeta.  Are these all the
> same thing or are the nurseries mixed up as usual?
> Hope yours survive in their new home.
> Dorothy Willott
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