Irises in the Persica Group by Siehe
Article in Gardeners' Chronicle p.313, 1901
IRISES OF THE PERSICA GROUP.
The well-known Iris persica has, in Asia Minor, a number of closely-related species, which I have discovered during my residence in this country for an uninterrupted period of six years. The bulbs of all these species are like those of Iris persica in sending up the characteristic fleshy roots from the base.
The most beautiful of all the early blooming Irises* is I. Heldreichi, which has already been described as I. stenophylla (a name which, for various reasons, I do not recognise). It was illustrated in the Gardeners' Chronicle of March 18, 1900. This species-is notable for its charming blue colour and narrow greyish-green leaves.
A new dark violet species is Iris tauri, which has bulbs like those of I. persica. The leaf-sheaths white ; leaves very broad, cf a lively green on the upper surface, and dull green below. They appear simultaneously with the flowers. Flower-sheath greenish-yellow ; Flowers — petals spatulate, folded at the edges. The leaf-sheaths are white, leaves very broad (as in persica), bright green on the upper surface, dull green underneath. They appear at the same time as the flowers. Flower-sheaths greenish-yellow, outer petals blue; inner petals about 1 3/4 inch long, bright violet, greenish at the back; the middle is feathered white with stripes of dark violet, the centre stripe being bright cadmium-yellow. On the reflexed tip is a black-violet blotch. The stamens and anthers are light violet in colour; the falls whitish-violet in colour ; the petal-like style is violet, more deeply coloured towaids the centre, the stigma pale mauve. The fruit is not as yet known.
This Iris is found in alpine pastures of the Eastern Taurus at a height of 6,500 feet, and also in the upper wooded regions in forests of Juniperus excelsa, at a height of 4,550 feet. There it blooms with the melting of the snow, sometimes at the end of February, but generally at the beginning, of March. It is one of the most beautiful of the early -flowering Irises.
Under the name of Iris persica magna I have distributed a plant which has proved its value. I call it Iris Hausknechti, in honour of the well known authority on the oriental flora. The original name was given wrongly to the plant in Weimar - r
it has nothing to do with the true persica. This species is distinguished by large, silver-grey flowers marked with red. The leaves are nearly as broad as those of Iris persica, and are characterized more especially by their white membraneous margin. When growing, the leaves of this species roll themselves together, and appear to be bent in every direction.
As a fourth interesting species of the Persica group, I would call attention to Iris Bolleana, which 1 have named after my friend Dr. C. Bolle, a well-known German botanist. This beautiful Iris has very narrow leaves, and like those of the before mentioned species, they are marked by their white, membraneous edges ; the immature leaves are also limp, and curled about in every direction. The flower is a clear yellow in colour, but on the tip of the innermost perigonial bract is a bright violet blotch. Sometimes this is wanting, and ttien the whole flower is yellow.
Since it is not possible just now to give an accurate and scientific description of these beautiful species that I have discovered, I shall hope in time to make up for it by giving some illustrations in future. With regard to their habitat, the four Irises I have mentioned are very different. The last-named, Iris Bolleana, is found on low limestone hills in the neighbourhood of the sea, at a height of from 650 to 950 feet. Iris Hausknechti grows in the undergrowth of forests of Pinus Bruttia, with a special preference for dry, overgrown, hilly slopeB. Only rarely does Iris HeldreicM
find its way up into this region, but then it blooms as early as January; its home is in the upper belt of forests, and there it is found under the beautiful variety of Pinus Laricio in fine red bam. At the beginning of March, it unfolds its superb flowers. Iris Tauri may almost be considered as an alpine plant; it inhabits the high, broad table-land of the Western Taurus, at a height of 6,500 ft., and still more frequently it is found at a height of 4,500 ft., in forests of Juniperus excelsa. Here, as I have before said, this charming plant blooms at the end of February. My plants have nothing to do with Iris persica purpurea of the trade, yet it it quite possible that Iris persica. purpurea is equally entitled to be regarded as a typical species. Bulb3 imported from Holland bloom here, but imperfectly, in December. W. Siehe, Hortus Orientalis, Mersina.
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