Post-office Iris
Mon, 10 May 2004 18:48:20 PDT

    I wonder if the old blue bearded iris is a form of I. pallida?  Many of 
its forms have a very pleasant grapey fragrance.  It is a tough survivor across 
North America and one occasionally sees it along roadsides and next to 
foundations of houses long gone.

    I don't know of any lists of fragrant irises, but the 1939 Check List of 
the American Iris Society has fragrance codes for many cultivars and species 
known to the editor Ethal Anson S Peckham.  For instance, she correctly codes 
the old dwarf yellow bearded ' La Perle ' ( 1901 ) as that of lily of the 
valley.  Flowering now ' Afterglow ' ( 1917) has a complex fresh scent with a hint 
of lemon in the background and ' Yvonne Pellitier ' ( 1916 ) a fragrance that 
Peckham codes as that of waterlily. As I am only interested in iris species 
and old bearded hybrids, I cannot comment on modern cultivars, tho there must be 
many fragrant ones.

   The rhizomes of many bearded irises, especially clones of x germanica ( 
such as ' Florentina ' ) and pallida have when drying out a pronounced fragrance 
of violets.  They were ( still? )  used in perfumery as " orris root " . I'm 
wondering by the way if your off-white iris from the post office may be ' 
Florentina ' , a greyish white; it too is a real survivor in trying conditions.  
Do you have any photos?

Jerry John Flintoff
Vashon Island,Washington,USA
Zone 8

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