1876, New Winter-Flowering Iris (Iris histrio)
The Garden p29, January 8, 1876
THE FLOWER GARDEN. NEW WINTER-FLOWERING IRIS. (XIPHION HISTRIO.)
This, when seen peeping through the ground in winter or early spring, reminds one of the common Netted Iris (I. reticulata) ; but its growth is rather taller, and the " fall petals " are broader and more conspicuously spotted, or rather blotched. Its colour is rich bluish-purple, flushed towards the base of the petals with rose-pink, the markings being of the deepest purple relieved by a medial ridge or crest of gold in the centre of the three external perianth segments. Its leaves are, like those of the Netted Iris, four-angled, and, like that beautiful plant, this also belongs to the bulbous group. When I first saw it pushing through the earth on an eastern border at Kew, in the winter of 1874, there was a little patch of snow beside the flower, and nothing could have set it off to better advantage than this, and a tuft of the vivid green Poa annua, with which it was also associated. This Iris is described as a native of Mount Lebanon and also of Mount Gerizim ; it was sent to Kew by M. Berberey, of La Ferriere, near Geneva, in March, 1873, who describes it as nearly related to I. reticulata, from which it differs not only in structural characters, but in flowering six weeks earlier than that species. We have now before us flowers of it even more delicately penciled and blotched than that lately figured in the " Botanical Magazine,"
and, while the flowers are there described as being inodorous, the blossoms thus freshly gathered are deliciously fragrant. Mr. P. Barr, from whom we have received the flowers in question, informs us that it has been in bloom with him for the last fortnight without having received any protection whatever. Its culture is by no means difficult. Treated like the last-named species it grows and blooms freely. Our engraving shows the size of the flower, and its colour as far as can be done by a wood-cut. This, with its allies, I. reticulata and I. stylosa, is well worth a place in sheltered positions in warm and deep rich soils and in every garden. B.
For more information on historic Irises visit the Historic Iris Preservation Society at