1888, Iris bracteata by Sereno Watson

Garden And Forest p43, March 21, 1888Iris Bracteata

Iris bracteata.

AMONG the peculiar species of the genus Iris which are found upon the Pacific slope of North America, the one here figured is one of the more notable and interesting. From near the extremity of its slender rootstock it sends up a flowering stem which is covered by loose sheathing and overlapping bracts, purplish, and scarcely differing from the bracts which subtend the flowers. The flowers are usually large, either nearly pure yellow or the recurved sepals (or "'falls'," as they are sometimes called), veined with bluish purple. The tube of the flower is very short and funnel-shaped, and the sepals, as in all Western species, are without beard or crest. The petals are narrow and erect, and the narrow styles are much prolonged beyond the antliers. The leaves that arise from the rootstock are solitary, at first sheathed at base by several thin, equitant bracts which appear to soon dry and wither. The leaf itself is linear and taller than the stem, thick and leathery, and persistent to the second or third year. When dry, the margins become revolute as a consequence of a dissimilarity in the two surfaces. The ordinary equitant leaf of Iris is as if it were folded longitudinally upon itself, so that the two surfaces are identical in character. Here, while one side is smooth, close and bright green, as usual, the other is lighter colored, with a very thin cuticle crowded with stomata, making it, of course, much more hygrometric.

This species was found by Mr. Thomas Howell, of Arthur, Oregon, in 1884, in the mountains of Josephine County, very near the southern boundary of that State, flowering in the latter part of April and in iVIay. In 1887 he again visited the locality and secured roots, from which it is hoped that the plant may be introduced into cultivation. In its characters it is most nearly allied to I. Douglasiana, which is common in the Coast Ranges of California from Del Norte to Alameda County. That species is much more leafy, and the usually pale lilac flowers have a much longer and narrower perianth-tube. The accompanying figure is from a drawing by Mr. C. E. Faxon. 5. IV.

For more information on historic Irises visit the Historic Iris Preservation Society at

-- BobPries - 2014-09-15
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