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Re: Unknown iris ID?

  • Subject: Re: Unknown iris ID?
  • From: "David Ferguson" <manzano57@msn.com>
  • Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 00:00:40 -0600
  • Seal-send-time: Tue, 22 May 2007 00:00:40 -0600

Hi Chris,
I have always liked these old Irises, and thought I might be able to ID this one, but so far I've not come up with a match.  There are several that are close, but no cigar.  One of the most similar, but not it, is 'Celeste'.  It is possible, that if it has really been growing there since the turn of the century, that you have found one that has been "lost" to cultivation; however, odds are better that it is a common one (though I have photos of most of the common ones).
You are correct that it is not I. pallida.  I. pallida would have a somewhat different appearance, the falls would probably be a bit longer and tend to hang down more, but the most obvious distinction is the papery spathes of I. pallida (the "wrappings" of the flower buds) when the flowers open.  The spathes are usually white in I. pallida (sometimes a tad brownish), not like the ones in your photo at all.  The grape smell of I. pallida flowers is not present in all selections of the species, but it is in most to some degree.  In some it is spectacularly wonderful (to my nose anyway).  While it is not usually allowed for in literature, I. pallida is quite varied in size and color, but the flowers are usually basically solid in color, and mostly vary through white, "blue" (a bit purplish), or "pink" (also a bit purplish, basically "rose").  There is great debate about the "plicata" I. pallida selections, whether they are really pure I. pallida or not, but they have the grape smell, and they sure look like I. pallida.  A great species - one of my favorites.
Your's is probably an old hybrid of I. pallida with I. variegata (of which there are many).  A lot of these have flowers that smell (according to the books) like Elder.  However, to me they just smell like Iris, and absolutely nothing like Elder.  A lot of the older ones are garden hybrids from France, but not all by any means.
As for yours, I like it!  Nice photo.

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