(1912) Some New Iris Hybrids by Dykes (I.clarkei X I.Douglasiana)

Gardeners' Chronicle p.274, April 27, 1912



Complete dominance does not seem to prevail when two widely -separated species of Iris are crossed together. On the contrary, each character of the hybrid seems to be a compromise between the corresponding characters in the two parents. Moreover, the investigation of the results in subsequent generations is rendered impossible by the complete sterility of the hybrids, both with their own pollen and with that of either of the parents.

It is, perhaps, premature to base any conclusions on a few instances, but the results that I obtained by crossing I. chamaeiris with pollen of I. Korolkowii and I. Congialti with pollen of I. tectorum have been confirmed by a fresh cross which I now propose to describe.

In 1909 I crossed a flower of I. Clarkei which comes from an elevation of about 10,000 feet on the Himalayas in the neighbourhood of Darjeeling with pollen of a form of the Californian I. Douglasiana, which has flowers of a pale pinkish-buff colour. I must confess that I hardly expected to obtain any result from a cross between such dissimilar species. However, when the flowers appeared in due course in June, 1911, there was no doubt that the two parents had combined to form an entirely distinct new Iris. In the first place the flowers are of a curious colour, that can best, perhaps, be described as crushed strawberry — that is to say, the pinkish buff of the pollen parent, I. Douglasiana, has almost, but not quite, obscured the blue-purple of I. Clarkei, the seed parent. The bluish tinge is obviously present, and the colour is quite different from that of I. Douglasiana.

Another obvious compromise between the characters of the two parents is found in the leaves. Those of I. Clarkei have a peculiar polished upper surface and are glaucous beneath. Moreover, they die away entirely in early autumn. Those of I. Douglasiana are of a thick, leathery texture, deep green in colour, persistent through the winter, only dying away when the fresh growths have developed in spring. They are usually more or less glaucous, at least in the early stages of their growth. The leaves of the hybrid seem unable to decide which parent they intend to follow, for the central leaves of a tuft are often entirely glaucous, while the outer leaves of the same tuft have the curiously dissimilar surfaces of I. Clarkei. This was the state of the foliage of my half-dozen plants when I began to observe them closely ; but I am sorry to say that this was not until I found flower-spikes, so that I do not know what appearance the leaves have in the early stages of their growth.

When I. Clarkei lost its leaves in September the hybrid was still quite green and vigorous, and I wondered whether it was going to follow the example of I. Douglasiana and keep its foliage until the spring. At first it seemed as though this would be so. But not long before Christmas the leaves turned yellow, and have now withered entirely away.

Another curious feature of the hybrid plant is that its flowers are mottled with a number of fine dots of a deeper shade of pinkish lavender on the blade of the falls, though there is no trace of any such dots on the flowers of either of its parents.

The standards also are mottled in the same way but more faintly. They are not held erect, as in I. Douglasiana, nor yet are they so much depressed as in I. Clarkei. They have wavy edges, which seem to result from the struggle between the plane surface of the standards of I. Douglasiana and the long, deeply-channelled haft of I. Clarkei, in the same way that the mottling appears to be the consequence of the competition for dominance of the pinkish-buff of the pollen parent and the deep blue-purple of the seed parent. W . R. Dykcs, Charterhouse, Godalming.

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

-- BobPries - 2014-07-16
Topic revision: r1 - 16 Jul 2014, BobPries
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