Bob Dickow recently asked a question about a small species iris which
he thinks is Iris chrysophylla a Pacific iris from western Oregon. He
indicated that his plant has "Flowers white with intricate blue purple
veination.". I have been waiting to read a reply from an expert on
Californian irises but no one seems to have responded to his request so
I am replying based on the literature that I have on my shelves.
Firstly, the plant is not chrysophylla. LeRoy Davidson says "This
species is limited in color to nearly white and pale yellow; in the
southern populations the falls are heavily marked with deeper yellow or
brown". (p.52 in Rock Garden Plants of North America. NAGRS 1996). The
Californicae that are sometimes blue (and this seems to mean at the
lavender end of blue) are douglasiana, hartwegii,innominata,
macrosiphon, munzii, and tenax (mine has just died after four years
outdoors without a single flower!!).
Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a picture of chrysophylla in
any of my books and Rodney does not have one on his NAMI page. This may
be because the flower is buried down in the leaves and appears to be
less photogenic than innominata, that everyone photos and publishes.
I understand that there is to be a book on the Californian irises which
would contain more information. Does anyone know the status of this
As to the culture question, without the species it is difficult to
respond although according to Mathew he says that all Californicae "are
very easy to grow in well-drained, slightly acid soil in full sun or
dappled shade (p 93). He says that chrysophylla is reported as being
tender - although the plant is not chrysophylla.
Ian in Ottawa