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Re: SPEC: Iris pumila

In a message dated 2/7/2006 9:59:44 AM Eastern Standard Time,  
rpries@sbcglobal.net writes:

<<I don't think the Schreiner pumilas went back as far  as
1928 but I could be wrong certainly the were used
widely in  hybridizing when they became available and
my guess would have been in the  40's.>>
It is the importation of seeds which I thought I recalled  occurring in the 
late 1920s. Then there would, of course, be the growing on.  

The easiest place to trace it back would, I think, be the Schriener  
catalogs. The earliest I have right here which appears to be useful is  the 1936 where 
named forms of the species are not yet offered but,  on page 37, under 
"Species and Unusual Types of Iris," is found an  entry for-----
"Pumilla [sic]: a diminutive species whose flowers are without true  stems, 
being borne on elongated ovaries. Colors: blue, yellow, and purple.  From 
central Europe, near Vienna. We know of no-one else in American offerring  true 
stock of this species."  

<< They were the first true pumilas we knew in this  country.>>
I am inclined to phrase it that "they are the first pumilas we KNEW were  
true in this country." 
We really don't know what was being sold under the name in those decades  and 
centuries before people became sophisticated about things. As  early as 1916 
Louise Beebe Wilder, no one's fool, was complaining  about getting the wrong 
stuff when she ordered Iris pumila, and  she knew the difference. There is this 
from her book, "My Garden" of that  date.
"Varieties of I. Chamaeiris and pumila are constantly sent out  
misnamed--that is, the former is nearly [note that nearly] always sent where  the latter is 
ordered, and this is irritating since pumila is both dwarfer and  prettier 
than Chamaeiris and may be easily distinguished by the fact that it  has NO 
stem, while the taller sort has very distinctly an inch or  two."  
Anner Whitehead
Richmond VA USA

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