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Re: SPEC: Iris tectorum

From: Bill Shear <BILLS@hsc.edu>

 I've been trying to find out just how hardy this one actually
>is. It is semi-evergreen here in Zone 7 Virginia and the old foliage gets hit
>pretty hard at the tips in late January. New leaves emerge, however, before
>the blooms appear, so it is not hard to groom the plant to look its best for
>its moment of glory. Contrary to the usual expectation, I have found the
>white to be stonger than the blue in this species, and this has been the case
>with three different blue clones grown from seed.

We're a bit further inland from Anner and a few degrees colder.  Tectorum
often looses its foliage entirely by spring here, but never fails to come
back.  I have never seen any signs of rhizome damage from cold; the coldest
we have seen in the last 20 years was -13F back in the early eighties.  I
find the white and blue about equal in vigor, but the blue outblooms the
white and has much better branched stems.  I suspect that a hybridizer
willing to take on this species could get rapid improvements in both form.
I have a nice blue clone from SIGNA seed that regularly produces 3-4
branches and a terminal, with 6-8 buds.

A few years back I got seed of supposedly tetra tectorum from SIGNA, but
the resulting seedlings were no better than what I already had.  Pollen
measurements showed that they were probably not 4N.  However, I am sure
there are real 4N clones out there somewhere. Also, someone must have the
real tectorum variegatum, instead of the japonica variegata that is usually
passed off as tectorum.  The archives have extensive discussion of these

Iris milesii is also quite hardy here despite loosing foliage over the
winter.  It seems to require more sun than tectorum.  I've already
recounted my abortive attempts to cross the two.

Iris japonica has survived outdoors here for nearly 15 years, but bloomed
only once.  Both foliage and rhizomes are damaged by temperatures in the
teens and single digits.  I see no difference in this regard between the
variegated clone and the green.

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

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