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Re: JI Symposium - Stop burning the red-heads.

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: Re: JI Symposium - Stop burning the red-heads.
  • From: Henryanner@aol.com
  • Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 13:13:10 -0600 (MDT)


Ian Efford offered several provocative observations occasioned by his
attendance at the JI symposium. I wasn't there but I though I might speak
anyway. Hear me clearly: this is only my analysis and I am not an "expert" by
anyone's definition.

 <<After N.C., I concluded that the system  lacked intellectual structure and
that there were few standards by which  to judge a flower.  There is a a wide
latitude given to personal opinion  and this was confirmed by John Coble when
he said that any three judges  might select winners at a show but that
another three judges at the same  show might select entirely different

You run into this kind of thing when you are dealing with human beings, all
of whom are limited and foolish and trying to get along in a world of
approximation. I would add here that when the question was posed to numerous
of the world's great thinkers some years back as to whether "Science" was a
method, or was a body of knowledge, the answer from Santayana was esteemed
the most compelling. Science, he said, is neither a method nor a body of
knowledge, but a body of "informed opinion aspiring to be true". Like I said,
a world of approximation.

 << At Burlington, we saw JI photos of what I can only call "unmade bed
 irises".  No formal structure, no symmetry, just a mass of petals and
 deformed standards, etc.  What are the rules to judge such a mess?>>

I am not an AIS judge, but this is my simple understanding. The formal
category itself--we may call it the category of Japanese Irise Which Look
Like Unmade Beds--- is not in dispute and is only one of several formal
categories. The simple issue for garden judging may be stated thus: within
that category of Japanese irises which look like unmade beds, is this a
worthy and significant new iris, which, of course, must also look like an
unmade bed. For show judging: does this iris which looks like an unmade bed
look like a particulary well grown and well groomed exemplar of the named
cultivar as it is officially registered and also known and understood by the
judge from examination of numerous individual specimens. Complex flowers
necessarily present special challenges. 

<< John raised a more disturbing issue.  He said that some JI plants can
 produce two distinct forms of flower from the same plant.  One is  exactly
as defined in the registration and the other is a colour sport  that can be
very different.  He said that a judge should know this and  reject the sport
as it is unacceptable. ...If that flower is
 perfect in every way except that it does not have the colour or colour
 pattern described in the registration, why would it be rejected?>>

If I understand the question, we are not talking about minor color variations
some might expect to arise from differences in growing conditions and so
forth, but fairly distinct "sports". As I see it, the "color sport" flower is
almost certainly at variance with the registration, which is the official
published description of the cultivar in accord with the International Code
of Nomencalture for Cultivated Plants. That is, it is a variation of no
official scientific standing. It cannot be an excellent example of the named
cultivar if it does not meet the detailed criteria specified in the
registration. Species populations may show considerable variation in color,
and such variation is not a criterion for inclusion or exclusion within a
species, but these are hybrid cultivars we are considering and the color is a
defining salient. 

I invite some expert to comment on whether a propensity for throwing "sports"
is contrary to the official conception of a good plant. Also, if propensity
for throwing sports is noted in the registration, does such note confer
respectability on these "color sports" if they themselves are not uniform,
and described in detail as well?

<< Rather than reject this flower, a  good judge should know that this can
happen in certain cultivars and  judge it as it is.  It is from the same
plant and genetically identical  (although biochemically it is obviously
different).  Thus, the problem
 is with the judging or the registration not the flower itself.  Let us
 accept the facts and change the judging and registration description to  be
more accurate and scientific>>

"Sports", an imprecise term, are frequently beautiful or unusual and may
certainly be appreciated and enjoyed, but they are often unstable and may not
manifest until some time after the plants are officially registered. It is
difficult to anticipate, quantify and describe the mutable. If "sports" are
fairly stable rather than chimerical in nature, it may be possible to isolate
them and deem them new cultivars. Clarence Mahan had the fascinating
experience of having Iris florentina---a white form of Iris germanica of some
antiquity--to "mutate" to purple and this was registered as ELSIE CROUCH
DILTZ in 1985, named, if my memory serves, after his grandmother. One issue
must be that of what exactly is going on botanically. With Mahan's iris the
presumption is that once upon a time long past the purple germanica mutated
to white florentina that we know, and one clone of this white florentina
eventually mutated back to purple in his garden. 

I invite someone with more knowledge of the registration system of AIS, which
functions as the international registering authority for the genus Iris, to
comment on to what extent  "sports", "reversions"  "mutants" and other
spontaneously occurring variations may be officially registered as new

Anner Whitehead, Richmond, VA
Henry Hall  henryanner@aol.com 

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