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Hybridizing native North American species irises

Donnald asked: 

> Iris verna ...Has it ever featured in breeding programs of any hybrid
> irises? Is anyone in the "Iris World" concentrating on breeding 
programs > with  other native North American species irises? 

Other than the LA iris, the most extensive breeding has been done with 
the Pacific Coast native iris (PCNI).  Like the LA there are several 
species of PCNIs  to contribute to the gene pool of the hybrids.   The 
next most active area is probably in breeding (not hybridizing in the 
strict sense) I. versicolor and hybridizing it with I. virginica.  At 
least one person is working with I. setosa.  

The NA irises are also used in a few programs using "wide crosses".  PCNI 
are crossed with the sino-siberians, I. setosa with siberians and I. 
versicolor with I. pseudacorus.   

I don't know of anyone working with any of the other natives, but there 
must be some pollen dabers out there somewhere.  You often see comments 
like "<native iris> has great garden potential and deserves more 
attention by hybridizers".

As for I. verna in particular, Don Jacobs in Decator Georga reported in 
SIGNA (the species iris group newsletter) last fall (Vol. 55) that he has 
selected several forms and feels he has enough to begin a planned 
breeding program.

A couple more comments on I. verna.  It is not considered a creasted iris 
(no crest!) but is classified as the only member of the series Vernae.  
Although it doesn't have a beard, it's flower form is much like a bearded 
iris.  It is also fragrant.  

Rodney whose I. verna recently lost a two year battle with the Texas 
weather without having bloomed :+(. 


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