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Re: TB: Germanica?

  • Subject: Re: [iris-photos] TB: Germanica?
  • From: "David Ferguson" <manzano57@msn.com>
  • Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2004 11:58:53 -0700
  • Seal-send-time: Sun, 14 Mar 2004 11:58:53 -0700

Looks like a good I. germanica to me, but I'm not very good at recognizing the individual clones (ie. cultivars).  Some of the old tetraploid TB cultivars look very similar, but they generally are larger in size and flower later (with other TB's).
The name I. germanica is widely misused for any tall(ish) bearded Iris; sort of a generic garbage can name that shouldn't be used because it is totally incorrect.  You will see it attached to many cultivars that have nothing to do with I. germanica.
Real I. germanica isn't very popular in cultivation now, and the most common places to see it are old farmsteads, cemetaries,
abandoned lots, and other "old" places where they have hung on over the years.  A few people like me really appreciate them though.  They are tough, easy to grow, and live for ever on neglect, and still they put on a great show every spring.  No giant flaring falls, ruffles, or space age stuff, but I tend to not like all that anyway.
I. germanica is a very old hybrid and the parentage is debated, but it is generally a white to purple IB or small TB with old fashioned flowers, and the bloom time is early, with other IB's.  I. florentina and I. albicans are pretty much the same thing, only white.
I lot of the old IB hybrids such as those of Sass are pretty much the same in appearance, but often come in other colors.
Personally I think I. germanica is a hybrid of I. lutescens (or other related 40 chromosome species of the Mediterranean) and introduced TB species from further east that were cultivated and transplanted even thousands of years ago.  Few of the TB species naturalized (though a few occur in places like Cyprus and Spain), but the hybrids seem to be pretty vigorous, widespread, and self perpetuating on the north side of the Mediterranean.
I. germanica has 44 chromosomes, and tends to not make seeds very well.
There is a good ongoing article in the SIGNA publication that is a good reference into how they look. 
Crimson King is a common dark cultivar, and Eleanor Roosevelt (an early IB hybrid) looks like one.
I have what for all the world looks like a yellow I. germanica, but I'm sure it's an old garden hybrid.  Haven't been able to find the name on it.
Personally, I'd love it if somebody posted good photos of all the old I. germanica cultivars that are in cultivation.  Mine are all confused, and I can't tell which is which for the most part.  Written descriptions aren't much help.

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