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HIST: THE RED DOUGLAS and Muddy Waters

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: HIST: THE RED DOUGLAS and Muddy Waters
  • From: Henryanner@aol.com
  • Date: Mon, 1 Jun 1998 15:44:38 -0600 (MDT)


Zelma wrote of her frustrations in trying to find a start of the genuine Jacob
Sass iris THE RED DOUGLAS. She has gotten it wrong from several nurseries and
despairs of seeing the real thing. Despair not, Zelma, a photo of this iris is
on the HIPS page at http://www.worldiris.com/, proof yet again that HIPS wants
you to be happy!

We at HIPS are very concerned about the problems of mislabeled or
misidentified irises which are in circulation and we encourage all others,
whether vendors, purchasers or traders, to take these issues very seriously as
well.  This is by no means just a HIPS problem, and it is growing.

I call an iris "mislabeled" when there is a slip-up in attaching the name to
the actual rhizome that is shipped, or because the clumps, one of which
actually was the right thing, grew too close together and the wrong piece was
dug, or somesuch similar scenario. This is carelessness, and  while the
occasional mistake is certainly to be forgiven, I don't expect much of this
sort of thing from a first class nursery and I don't tolerate a pattern of it.
It is intensely annoying to discover, as I did this spring, that someone put
the wrong labels on things and the ten dollar iris you have been waiting for
all has just bloomed as the two dollar extra you thought you gave away,
meaning the wrong names were written on the fans at the nursery.   

Now a misidentification is another matter. This means that something has been
traded or sold as one thing which it more or less resembles, when it isn't
that thing. Sometimes this is a result of deliberate sneaky tricks, sometimes
of honest error, sometimes of people just not paying attention to obvious
discrepancies in published  descriptions. Often it is a result of people
guessing about names. We see a good deal of this in HIPS, but, as I said, it
is by no means just associated with historic irises. An unknown iris looks
like or meets the description of thus-and-such, and so it is labeled. We urge
that no name be attached to any iris without a detailed side by side
comparison with a specimen known to be truly identified. Named iris cultivars
are not only flowers, they are unique botanical entities and as such are not
fungible. The risk is great that the one real thing and the information it
carries in its genes will be lost in the murkey sea of uncertainly, and, for
the purposes of preservation or future scientific study, will be gone.   

Zelma, if you would like to grow this iris, which is not an obscure one, drop
me a note privately and I'll refer you to some nurseries from whom I believe
you can order with confidence.

Anner Whitehead
Commercial Source Chairman
Historic Iris Preservation Society, AIS
"Preserving irises, iris documents, and iris artifacts for future needs."
HIPSource@aol.com, Henryanner@aol.com



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