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Re: Re: *germanica*

  • Subject: Re: [iris-photos] Re: *germanica*
  • From: Robt R Pries <rpries@sbcglobal.net>
  • Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2004 16:12:12 -0800 (PST)

Iris germanica seems to be a source of unending discussion. Thankfully everyone seems to agree that it arose as a natural hybrid between two species for which the chromosome numbers did not balance and have left germanica relatively sterile. Rarely it does produce seed. There are many varieties of this, some of which may just have arisen as sports. Nigel Service has spent the most time studying this species and has been reporting in SIGNA the variations. Yes it can still be called a species. Certainly it is a very successful species even if it lacks fertility. Whether some tetraploid species that look similar to germanica should just be considered tetraploid forms of germanica is debatable. Myself, I like to think of them separately. Brian Mathew told me that when he listed them together for comparison his intention was not to say they were all one, which is how many people interpreted his work. Florentina, albicans, and belouinii are also hybrids but not necessarily between the same parents as germanica. If you separate the tetraploid species from germanica you can say fairly firmly that germanica had no contribution to the modern tall beardeds, despite that fact that most nurseries use this as the species name for TBs. Just as in various parts of Europe a particular clone of germanica tends to dominate, the same thing happens in North America. ?Purple King? or ?Seattle? is the dominant variation in the Pacific Northwest. Pictures of germanica tend to be confusing, even in person one of its flowers may appear to be a self of a bitone depending on the lighting. Modern DNA research may fill in some answers someday soon, but for now we are left with a great deal of speculation concerning its origin.


There are hybrids between pallida and variegata that have been given botanical names; Iris squalens, etc. But these have little to do with germanica.

Hensler <hensler@povn.net> wrote:
Hi Neil,

The SIGNA Checklist probably has the best definition of I. germanica... In a
nutshell:  Plants 25"-30" tall; 2n=44; blue to blue-violet; probably
Mediterranean in origin and of hybrid origin but now widespread in

For all practical purposes, the type has been around so long that it's
become a recognizable group. The HIPS site shows a classic example

One of my first irises was an old I. germanica that had been kicking around
at least since the early 1900s. The only time it every produced anything
with different form or color from the type was when it was outcrossed to the
more modern irises.


Skip & Christy Hensler
Newport, WA
----- Original Message -----
From: "Neil A Mogensen" <neilm@charter.net>

The "species" *germanica* refers only to a particular herbarium specimen and
living members of the same clone.

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