1910, Iris Leavigata and Iris Kaempferi by Dykes

The Gardeners' Chronicle p.15, July 9, 1910



May I once more revert to this subject, the interest in which is renewed by the recent exhibition of a variety of the so-called albo-purpurea? As far as I have been able to discover, the truth of the matter seems to be that in the marshy ground on the banks of the River Amur there grow two Irises, one with somewhat narrow leaves, with a distinct mid-rib — to use a convenient but inaccurate term — and the other with much broader, yellow-green leaves, which have a very slight, if any, trace of thickening along the centre. Of these, the former is apparently the I. Kaempferi, of Siebold, and the latter the I. laevigata, of Fischer and Meyer, but not of Regel. (The latter is a synonym of Iris Kaempferi.)

I. Kaempferi has deep red-purple flowers, relieved by a golden central ridge on the falls, whilst I. laevigata is the best blue Iris that I have ever seen. I incline to think that these two Irises are the parents of the Kaempferi hybrids so extensively grown in Japan.

Of I. laevigata there are certain garden forms, apparently from Japan, of which the first to be noticed in England was Mr. Baker's albo-purpurea, a plant with white falls dotted with pale blue. The plant which Messrs. R. Wallace & Co. exhibited en June 21 (see Gardeners' Chronicle, vol. xlvii., p. 231) was a deep-blue form of this, and I am sorry to say that at least two double monstrosities are also to be obtained from Japan, one with six fall-like petals of a. deep indigo-blue colour and the other of a dingy grey colour of similar shape. All of these are, how-ever, vastly inferior, to my mind, to the type, with its large flowers of a glorious deep-blue colour. Both this and Kaempferi are now in flower together here, and I am inclined to wonder whether the Japanese really prefer their double monstrosities, or whether they simply palm off such freaks on us and keep the type to themselves. At any rate, the type seems extremely difficult to obtain, although I hope, in a year or two, to be in a position to distribute some of the many seedlings, both of the type and of the beautiful form albo-purpurea that are growing here

If this view is adopted, the proper nomenclature will be: — I. laevigata Regel, a deep-blue single flower; I. laevigata Rgl. var. albo-purpurea Baker, for the original Kew plant, which is still growing by the side of the new Water Lily tank there; and I. laevigata Rgl., var. albo-purpurea colchesterensis, for the plant that Messrs. R. Wallace & Co. showed. In view of the length of this latter title, it would surely be better to give some English name to this garden form, especially as it seems more convenient to reserve Latin names for wild species. W. B. Dykes. Charterhouse, Godalming.

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

-- BobPries - 2014-11-19
Topic revision: r1 - 19 Nov 2014, BobPries
This site is powered by FoswikiCopyright © by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding Iris Wiki? Send feedback