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HIST: KALIFA ABRA & LATE AMETHYST


From: Sharon McAllister <73372.1745@compuserve.com>

>Anner has already addressed this inquiry as comprehensively as possible 
before it was posted here and she referred the questioner to the Aril
Society 
International, with the note that many of the earlier arilbred irises would

seem to be extinct or nearly so with some only available from within the 
Society. She also cc'd Scott Jordan in on the note and issued a caveat that

there are persistent stories that not a few survivors are circulating under

false names.   <

Unfortunately, in this case the rumors are true.  Many of C.G. White's
introductions from the 1950s were still readily available when I jumped
into the world of arilbreds in the mid-1970s.  In most cases, I obtained my
rhizomes from hybridizers who had been growing and using them for years and
was often able to confirm IDs based on photographs and catalog
descriptions. 

I lost most of my collection in the mid-1980s, however, during my mother's
bout with cancer.  When I tried to re-establish it, I found most of the
C.G. White cultivars were no longer obtainable.  And the ones I did manage
to get my hands on were usually mislabeled.  

The bad news -- as I told Tom some time ago,  I think it highly unlikely
that the photo shown on the ASI page is the real KALIFA ABRA.  It bears
little resemblance to the cultivar we once grew in the Mesilla Valley ,
which matched the registered description: "Blend of white, veined Prussian
red, and Prussian red edged old gold; old gold beard."

The good news -- there are many modern arilbreds with the intense colors,
form and pattern of the photo on the ASI page.  

As for LATE AMETHYST....    The one obtainable through this year's ASI
Plant Sale may well be the real thing -- but an oncogelia hybrid has been
in distribution for some years under this label.  If you want to see what
the real LATE AMETHYST looks like, go to the Regelia Species page on my web
site.

The imposter has a larger, wider flower, and a V-shaped signal instead of
the characteristic amethyst blush on the falls of the real LATE AMETHYST.

Don't mistake this as criticism of the ASI Plant Sale.  I'm merely sharing
my experience as a long-time customer, contributor and former co-chairman. 
The ASI Plant Sale has long been the most comprehensive source of arils and
arilbreds in the world -- BUT it depends on the donations of members and
accurate identification of its stock lies solely with the donor.  Buying
through ASI gives you NO special guarantee that you're getting the right
thing.  It's still necessary to check identities when your acquisitions
bloom.  

Most problems aren't with flowers of like color and form.  Consider the
current discussion of black TBs.  If your newly acquired BEFORE THE STORM
blooms near-black you have every reason to believe that it's right because
it hasn't been around long enough and passed through enough hands to have
had very many chances at being mislabeled.   If you're lucky enough to get
your hands on PATENT LEATHER, however, even if it blooms near-black you'd
probably want to look at depth of color and bud count because it's old
enough to be more subject to errors.  If it blooms pink, though, you KNOW
you've got a problem.  

Arils and arilbreds have such complex patterns and diverse forms that it's
relatively easy to find distinguishing characteristics.  But we DO have to
take the time to look.

Climbing down from my soapbox now....

Sharon McAllister
73372.1745@compuserve.com

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