1911, Iris Pumila by Dykes

Gardeners' Chronicle p.277, May 6, 1911


Great as is the confusion in Iris nomenclature, no name is probably so frequently misused as that of I. pumila. It occurs in every nurseryman's catalogue, but it is extremely rare to find a specimen of the plant in their gardens, except in the shape of I. pumila coerulea, which is a true pumila. Of this, there are in commerce at least two forms, one of which is slightly larger than the other, and vastly more vigorous and floriferous. I. pumila is indeed one of the most floriferous of all Irises. In most species it is only the central growth at the end of the rhizomes that produces a bud, but in I. pumila as many as three or four of the growths on either side are also capable of flowering, so that each small rhizome may produce as many as nine flowers.

The home of the species ends in the West at the hills near Vienna, where it grows abundantly in many colour forms, red-purple, blue, white, and yellow. The plant can there be traced eastward down the Danube, round the Black Sea by Odessa and the Crimea to the Volga, beyond which it does not apparently extend.

The features of the true plant are firstly the absence of stem ; secondly, the long (2 inch or more) perianth tube: thirdly, the loosely wrapping, and, as it were, shapeless spathe valves, and lastly, its early-flowering habit, for the true I. pumila is always the first of the bearded Irises to flower. The plants, with which it is confused, are forms and hybrids of the French and Italian Irises, to which the names lutescens, chamaeiris, olbiensis, and italica have been given. In these the stem is always obvious, though often only an inch or two in length, the perianth tube is not much more than an inch in length, the spathe valve's are keeled, and their outline is better defined, and the flowering time is a week or two later than that of I. pumila. W. E. Dykes, Charterhouse, Godalming.

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

-- BobPries - 2014-11-12
Topic revision: r1 - 12 Nov 2014, BobPries
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