The "Real" Iris tectorum

James Waddick
Mon, 19 May 2003 21:45:05 PDT
Dear all;
	The traditional rumor is that the Japanese imported this 
Chinese species centuries ago. Japense women in feudal ages used the 
finely ground rhizome to make a very pale make-up (think Geisha). 
During a later war period, all farmers were forced to use every inch 
of growable land to produce food and it was illegal to waste 'land' 
on this plant. The sly women planted this iris in the thatched roofs 
of their country homes to make the rhizome available. It was during 
this period that European botanical explorers first observed the iris 
and thus called it the "Japanese Roof" Iris, although it is neither a 
native of Japan or a usual denizen of roofs. This is one reason why 
common names are so mis-leading.
	Anyway the story may be just rumor, but intriguing.

	I have seen literally thousands of plants of this species in 
the wild and in cultivation and seen only minor differences in color 
from the typical blue-violet. Various named varieties push minor 
differences that may be due to cultivation only. 'Burma Form' is one 
of these and there are others; 'Freckles' is said to  have more and 
larger spots. Except for the White form "alba', I don't think any of 
these variations amounts to much.
	The literature suggest a pink form, but it hasn't been 'seen' 
(if it really ever existed) in decades.

	Incidentally I tectorum is one of the few (only?) beardless 
iris to have a known hybrid with a bearded species. This hybrid is 
called 'Paltec' and is 1/2 I pallida. Other supposed hybrids have 
been registered, but they seem to be highly speculative too.

	I'd love to see or hear of anyone with a truly different I. tectorum.

	But it is a very nice iris, widely adaptable and worthy of 
most gardens.

		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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