Iris anguifuga

James Waddick
Tue, 13 Mar 2007 08:33:57 PDT
Dear Friends -
	I'd like to draw you attention to a plant I have introduced 
into cultivation that bulb growers might find interesting.

	Iris City Gardens has introduced Iris anguifuga,  a new 
species never available commercially before. read more about it here.

	This species has been grown by Chinese herbalist for 
centuries, but never brought into cultivation until I collected a few 
plants in 1989 in Hangzhou, China. I was delighted to find it fully 
hardy in my Zone 5 garden where it's strange annual growth cycle 
seems to accommodate to my climate. My original plant has been 
vegetatively propagated and introduced under the fitting name of 
'Snake Bane'. 
	Because of its odd growth cycle it seems that it also 
completely thwarts the pesky iris borers. When borer eggs hatch after 
winter dormancy, the plants' foliage goes into its spring dormancy, 
thus denying young borer caterpillars a food source. Maybe it should 
be called 'Borer Bane'  !
	It has many characteristics that are unique in the genus. For 
bulb enthusiasts it has some strange under ground habits. At its peak 
of growth and bloom the plant has a dense semi-woody rhizome. A bit 
odd looking, but as the foliage goes dormant and over summer the 
rhizome shrinks back to the smaller terminal portion and just before 
new growth begins in fall, this underground part closely resembles a 
bulb-like form. This species suggest one way that illustrates the 
gradual pathway between the distinctly bulbous and distinctly 
rhizomatous iris species.
	The flower too shows some odd characteristics of both 
Siberian and Spuria irises, but is the only Iris species to have a 
single bract beneath the flower.

	While not a major garden 'show off', it is an iris with a 
distinct story all its own.

		Just FYI		Jim W.

Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
Zone 5 Record low -23F
	Summer 100F +

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