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Re: Lavender Iris ? follow-up

  • Subject: Re: Lavender Iris ? follow-up
  • From: irischapman@aim.com
  • Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2008 07:44:38 -0400

That is good information. Could you possibly expand on this a bit and
submit for publiction to HIPS.
I'm sure lots of people will finfd it helpful.

About Dalmatica. I have gotten seeds from it. Very few and a different
shape from most other palladias. Also bracts look a bit different from
other pallidas and leaves are wider and slighly different in colour..

I have a photo of its seeds somewhere. If people are interested I can
search out photo and post.

Chuck Chapman

Re: Lavender Iris ? follow-up

Posted by: "David Ferguson"


Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:57 pm (PDT)

Well, actually, I've been growing 'Celeste' for a long time, and I
thought yours looked familiar. However, there are lots of details to
note that can help identify Iris. The more cultivars that are
introduced however, the more there are to sort through. There are a
lot of old ones, but at least no new old ones :) Some things to look
at are the colors of parts such as the leaf bases, the styles, the
bracts, etc. If it's a pallida, it will always have the bracts papery,
not green, when the flowers are open. The hybrids with other species
involved rarely have bracts like this. The way the petals are held,
and their shape are often distinctive. The color, shape and density of
the beard are useful to note. The pattern of stripes at the base of
the falls (and often the standards too) are very distinctive, and while
they are not identical on any two flowers, even on the same plant, they
are consistent in basic arrangement and appearance within any given
cultivar, and they can be very useful for identification. Of course
none of this is any use if you don't have a properly labeled flower or
photo of a flower to compare with, or if the color of the foliage base
is not shown or noted. Luckily, there are photos on the internet now
of most of the old cultivars. The Historic Iris Preservation Society
has lots of photos. Superstition Iris has lots of good ones. Argyle
Acres' website is good too, but varies from year to year depending on
what is offered for sale at the time. And so on.

If you do some digging, you should be able to find lots of photos of

Iris pallida is species that grows in the wild, and it is variable.
It can be anywhere from 10 inches to 3 ft tall, but mostly about 2 ft
is a common height for many individuals of the species. The literature
claims the bracts are not only papery, but "silvery" or "white". This
is often true, but they can be pale brownish too. Flowers are smallish
and tend to be rather vertical looking (falls pointing down); they can
be white, light rose-pink, or light purplish blue. There is one very
dark bluish cultivar called 'Floridor', and there are numerous
cultivars that are plicatas of the type that are mostly white with
edges stiched with color. Most Iris pallida have flowers that smell of
grape soda (wonderful when planted en-mass). This species is in the
ancestry of most tall bearded Iris cultivars, but many of it's
distinctive characteristics are hard to see in these more modern

The most common bluish cultivars are 'Dalmatica' and 'Odoratissima'.
Both are very commonly grown. They are similar, but 'Dalmatica' tends
to be a bit larger, and 'Odoratissima a bit more prolific grower and
with stronger fragrance to the flowers. If I remember correctly,
'Dalmatica' doesn't make pollen and 'Odoratissima' does (I may have
that switched?).

Most of the old hybrids of I. pallida are the result of I. pallida x I.
variegata, but other species might be involved too. They tend to have
a musky smell (Elder Iris is a common name for some of them), and they
tend to have falls that spread out just a bit more. The bracts are
usually mostly or at least partly green and foliacious. There are many
of these, a large percentage originally "bred" in France. Very few
were released after around 1930, because they weren't as striking as
the newer tetraploid hybrids that were begining to dominate the market.
A few people are playing with these (and other) wild species again.
Tom Silvers has posted lots of photos of interesting new hybrids that
look very much like these older ones here.

Hope that helps.

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