Dear All, Sorting these out seems to be a perennial problem as it is something that is often discussed. I remembered one particular discussion and looked for it in my personal archives. In May 1999 John Grimshaw posted on another list the key from Flora Europaea. To save him having to write all this over again, I am reposting his message. I took pictures of mine blooming this year, but the birds stole one of the tags and I wasn't sure which one it was and didn't look for his key at the time. So those pictures never made it to the wiki, but if people liked I could add some to the Gladiolus page and we could all puzzle over them. We also saw a nice row of them in Kew, but as much as I looked I couldn't find a label even though most things were labeled. Maybe they just volunteered? Any dna on these? Maybe someone will lump them together one day. Mary Sue From John Grimshaw, May 1999 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-flowered,rarely 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. I have been growing G. illyricus from seed and the first has just bloomed - a pretty, dainty thing. 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.