Crested Iris 101

James Waddick
Sat, 08 Mar 2003 10:25:54 PST
Dear all;
	The geuns Iris has 6 subgenera.
	Subgenus Limniris includes most beardless iris and crested iris
	Crested are in Section Lophiris.
	There are about a dozen species in this section, but they are 
very loosely related an not a coheent group. There are a few that ARE 
mre closely related and 4 species that are include:

	I japonica
	I confusa
	I wattii and
	I formosana

	I japonica is VERY common in cultivation and seen as both 
nearly all white or pale blue color forms(like in Doug's picture). 
The foliage is semi-glossy and forms fans without ANY visible stem. 
There are many thin wiry rhizomes that can produce new fans a 
distance from the main plant. Usually the entire plant (less flower 
spike) is a foot + in height.

	I confusa is larger than I japonica in all parts, but is very 
similar. At bloom it forms a stem beneath the fan of foliage that can 
reach 2 ft from the ground to the base of the foliage. I have seen 
this whole plant nearly 4 ft tall excluding flower spike. Flowers are 
similar to I japonica in pale blue or near white.

	I wattii is larger still; the stem is both taller and larger 
in diameter, the foliage is larger too and the whole plant can easily 
reach 6 feet or more. Flowers are usually more violet and only 
vaguely like either of the former. Flowers are largest in this group 
up to 3 inches diameter.

	I japonica can be grown with protection in Zone 6, same for I 
confusa, but watti is much more tender and will only flower in a 
frost-free climate.
I wattii is represented in cultivation by a few strains and is really 
rather uncommon.
	The picture Doug posted could actually be either I japonica 
or I confusa. If there is any stem between the soil level and the 
foliage fan, it is confusa.

	Does this make it clear? This picture looks fairly accurate, 
but color might be darker in life. 

	or you can always check out 'Iris of China' with more details.
	Need I add that these are so often confused by even the 
biggest botanical gardeners and growers that the name I confusa is 
very appropriate.

		Best	Jim W.
Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
E-fax  419-781-8594

Zone 5 Record low -23F
	Summer 100F +

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