(1908) Iris minuta, Kumaonensis, Culture of the Oncocyclus Irises by Dykes

Gardeners' Chronicle p.396, June 20, 1908


Iris minuta. — The yellow variety of this Iris, which is noticed by Baker in his handbook of the Irideae, flowered here for the first time on May 4. It agrees with the type in all respects, except in colour, which is a bright yellow. The falls are marked with fine brown dots and lines down the haft and centre of the blade, and the edges of the standards are also brown. The plants were imported from Japan.

Iris kumaonensis caulescens. — A few months ago I received from Messrs. Barr & Sons a small piece of the rootstock of an Iris, with a note to the effect that it came from the Sikkim Himalaya. In appearance the rootstock resembled that of I. Duthiei, and I therefore planted it in a stony soil rich in humus, adding a little peat. The first flower opened on May 11th, and proved that the Iris was a variety of kumaonensis, distinguished from the type by having a stem nearly 6 inches long. The standards, of a pale mauve-lilac, are not held erect, but incline outwards, giving the flower a likeness in shape to I. tectorum. The falls are of a deep purple-lilac, mottled with a still deeper shade, while the deep orange tips to the fine white hairs of the beard are a distinct feature. The flower, unfortunately, only lasts for 12 hours, but 36 hours after it fades the second flower is fully expanded. The following is a detailed description: — Rhizome slender, short-creeping ; tufts crowded ; outer sheaths splitting up into fine fibres. Leaves linear, pale green, rigid, 4 to 6 inches long by 1/3 rd inch broad at flowering time. Peduncle 4 inches long, one-headed. Spathes two-flowered; valve lanceolate, pale green, 2 inches long; pedicles very short. Perianth tube 1 1/2 inches long, dark purple ; falls obovate-cuneate, 2 inches long, the outer 1 1/4 inches reflexed, 1 inch broad, dark purple lilac mottled in the centre of the blade with a darker shade ; beard of fine white hairs tipped deep orange, arising from a white crest ; standards spreading, oblong-unguiculate, 2 inches long J inch broad, pale mauve-lilac ; crests deltoid.

The culture of Oncocyclus Irises. — Everyone who has ever grown these beautiful Irises knows the difficulties under which they are cultivated. The chief of these perhaps arises from the fact that, whether the rhizomes are in or out of the ground, they begin to develop shoots in October. They must, therefore, be planted in the autumn, and our variable winters play sad havoc with the young leaves, and the percentage of losses among a number of these plants is often high. In their homes in Central Asia these Irises are frozen hard all through the winter, and cannot grow until the snow melts in spring. In order to reproduce these conditions as nearly as possible, I packed up a number of rhizomes last August in dry moss in a wooden box, and sent it up to the Imperial Cold Stores Co., at South Tottenham. There the box remained in a temperature of 28° to 30° until the first week in March. On opening the box then the roots were precisely as they had been in August. I planted the rhizomes on March 9, and the plants soon made healthy growth in warm, sandy soil, with a layer of old cow manure a foot beneath the surface. The buds are now showing, and the plants apparently in the best of health. W. R. Dykes, Charterhouse,

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

-- BobPries - 2014-07-22
Topic revision: r1 - 22 Jul 2014, BobPries
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