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Re: Historical iris

In a message dated 96-05-26 13:41:35 EDT, you write:

> What are Florentina,  Flavescens, Odoratissima, and Sambucina?  Any
>suggestions on a collection of iris from that time period that might have at
>least been at homesteads in the area?  Are the five the World of Iris lists
>the most common ones?

The World of Irises is correct...how could you doubt it, Linda!!  I.
florentina is the "orris root iris", used in perfumery and for making
sachets, etc. as a fixative.  It has been grown for many centuries, and is a
sterile interspecies iris now classed as a form of I. germanica by the
taxonomists.  It is often confused with I. albicans, another white historic
cultivar...and I. albicans is one that I would add to the list in The World
of Iris because it has been grown, at least in the South, since colonial
times.  If you would see I. florentina and I. albicans together you could
easily identify them...I. florentina has a bluish cast to it, while albicans
has a "smoother' texture and is pure white.  Iris albicans came from the
Arabian peninsula when the Muslims conqured North Africa and Spain.  

Iris flavescens is a pale yellow iris, and has a much smaller flower and
narrower stem than modern TBs  It has purple reticulations, and Mathew (The
Iris, the best modern book on iris species) says it may be a form of Iris
variegata....I think it is heavy in I. variegata heritage, but not pure

Odoratissima is a form of I. pallida, and looks pretty much like the I.
pallida that grows throughout the Eastern U.S.  in gardens, graveyards,
beside the road, etc.  You can tell it by its lavender blue flowers and white
papery spathes.  Odoratissima is, as the name suggests, very
fragrant------but then so is I. pallida.

Sambucina is generally thought to be a mixture of I. pallida and I. variegata
genes.  It is a bicolor with murky yellow standards and purple falls and gets
its name from the fact that is has the fragrance of the elder, i.e Sambucus.
 It was very common in old gardens throughout the Eastern U.S., and is easily
detectable by its rather unique scent.

Hope this is not more info than you wanted...but once I get started on
historic irises it is hard to stop...I love them all!  Clarence Mahan in
Northern VA

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