Gladiolus query

Lauw de Jager
Wed, 27 Nov 2002 23:02:06 PST
John Bryan a *crit 
> Gladiolus illyricus = slender stem, usually not branched but sometimes with one. flowers 4-5 cm. magenta purple with lower 3 lobes with white lanceolate marks  tube curved lower tepals 3 clawed.
   G. communis ssp byzantinus = stem 50 - 100 cm. spike with 10 - 20
flowers, sometimes with one or two branches, deep purple red with narrow
paler marks outlined in dark purple red on lower lobes, tube slightly
curved, lobes broad and overlapping.  The main difference being height,
tepals not clawed, white markings and not paler outlined in dark purple.
> Paul Tyerman wrote
> > Does someone have information on the differences between Gladiolus illyricus and G. communis ssp. byzantinus?  I have seen references to them  being similar, and I originally bought a pot labelled as illyricus which flowered looking identical to pictures of communis ssp byzantinus.  I  relabelled it as such, but recently I have found out that it could beillyricus as they are so similar.  Also, there is a Gladiolus here in the mass marketing packet (i.e little mesh bag on cardboard picture and description) called "Oriental Lady" which is then described as G. byzantinus.  This has similar flowers to my illyricus by at least twice the size in all dimensions.

> > So..... I am no nearer to working out what my original plant is and whether 'Oriental Lady' is the communis ssp byzantinus for me to compare to or not.

Dear Paul,;
I am interested in your question and follow closely the related
postings.  Here I have also several Gladiolus communis types  (of
mediterranean origin). The most common here is G communis  ssp
byzantinus. But locally one can find  very closely related italicus and
illyricus and  the difference is a matter of minor botanical characters.
 They are all dark pink (almost camine red) There is only one  which is 
'Burgondie red'(or purple red or magenta purple etc ) which was found by
a collegue in the Scilly Isles UK.  Much taller,  and darker and larger
flowers. Makes large corms and  multiplies as rapidly as the  G communis
byz. This could be your 'oriental Lady" (for picture  see our website) 
Here are some postings of the IBS forum
J Waddick 2/99 According to the European Garden Flora Vol 2
        G. italicus differs from G. communis with the former having
anthers longer than filaments, the latter having anthers equal or
shorter than filaments.
        2 subs of G. communis
            G. communis c. Flowers rather loosely spaced-usually pink
            G. c. byzantinus Flowers rather closely set usually deep
purplish red
        G. illyricus - shorter than communis (50 cm max) and 10 flowers
or less.
        G. palustris - similar to G. imbricatus reddish purple flowers
in one row, under 50 cm loose spike of 2 to 6 flowers. Tolerates more moisture.
There is also G. imbricatus from Europe and perhaps another one or
two. Just a short review. See Mathew's Bulbs of Europe for more.Jim W
 J Grimshaw 5/99
9905 The European gladioli are not nearly as wonderful as the South
African species, but they are very pretty and worthwhile garden plants
nevertheless. All are variations on a theme of bright reddish-purple
with white stripes on the lower segments, but they vary considerably in
stature and flower density etc.

Here's the key from Flora Europaea
1 Anthers longer than filaments (or aborted) seeds not winged      G. italicus
1 Anthers equalling or shorter than filaments; seeds winged

2 Spike dense; hypanthial tube strongly curved; lowest leaf obtuse     
G. imbricatus
2 Spike lax; hypanthial tube slightly curved; lowest leaf narrowing =
gradually to an acute apex

3 Spike more or less distichous, with 3-20 flowers; axillary branches
often present
G.illyricus group
3 spike strongly secund, with not more than 6 flowers; axillary branches absent
G palustris

The G. illyricus group consists of G. illyricus and G. communis and =
these are distinguished thus

Plant 25-50 cm high; leaves 10-40 cm x 4-10 mm; spike
3-10-floweredrarely branched; perianth segments 25-40 x 6-16 mm         
                            G. illyricus

Plant 50-100 cm, lvs 30-70 cm x 5-22 mm; spike 10-20-fld, frequently
branched; perianth segs 30-45 x 10-25 mm                                
                       G. communis

There are further minor species allied to G. illyricus  - G. reuteri
from Spain with very narrow leaves, and G. glaucus from Greece is very
dwarf (sounds interesting). I discover that the British native G.
illyricus is all triploid; it is very rare and confined to the New
Forest, a warm sandy district in southern England. 
Of G. communis, Flora Europaea recognises two subspecies ssp. communis
and ssp. byzantinus differing mostly in size and colour - communis is
smaller & paler, byzantinus taller & darker and comes from S. Spain,
Sicily and North Africa. It is the one commonly grown in gardens here
and is in full flower now, providing a rather vulgar burst of colour -
although yesterday I was complimented by a garden visitor on a =
fortuitous combination of the glad with the striped Bourbon rose ' =
Commandant Beaurepaire'. I preferred to see the gladiolus with the soft
blue of an adjacent Campanula persicifolia!  G. communis is often rather
tender in cultivation in Britain and even byzantinus is usually seen
only in southern gardens

Lauw de Jager 
BULB'ARGENCE, 30300 Fourques, France
Région Provence/Camargue, (Climat zone 9a Mediterranean)

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