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(SPEC) 'Athoa' aka Iris athoa Fos.

1893, Botanical Author Foster

'Athoa' ( Sir Michael Foster -1893-Mt. Athos). Subgenus Iris, DB; Early bloom season. Color Class-R1M; a red-violet form of Iris reichenbachii; Hocker 1932. Iris reichenbachii Heuffel.

References: ; Gartenflora 42: 596. 1893 Hocker 1932; 1938;

Foster gives the following description in Gard.Chron.:
  • Iris Athoa, Foster, n. sp*
    Rhizome compact, short, and somewhat broad ; leaves in dense heads, short, broad (25 cm. or less, by 3 cm. or more), pointed, with a tendency to be falcate ; the scape more or less ancipitous, about 30 cm. high or less, with two pointed bracts, but otherwise naked bears a terminal bud of two or three flowers, and sometimes (hut rarely) a lateral flower ; spathe valves very navicular, keeled, and inflated, bright creen, with a more or less purple edge, not at all scarious at flowering, leaving the upper part of the perianth-tube exserted ; outer perianth segments spathulate, the blade sharply deflexed on the claw, and also on itself laterally ; the blade of a thin red-purple, without conspicuous veins; the claw white in front, yellowish behind, marked with bold thick brown-purple veins, which end abruptly at the level of the front of the beard ; beard dense, of white hairs tipped with purple; inner perianth-segment a long ellipse with a short claw, the blade of rich red-purple, the claw yellowish, with numerous brown-purple spots and veins; style narrow, pale in colour, with somewhat small pointed triangular crests; anthers short on long fllament ; pollen scanty; perianth-tube twice or three times as long as the ovary, which is rounded-trigonal with thick walls ; ripe capsule not seen.
    This Iris was sent to me by Mr. Burbidge, of Dublin, having been gathered by Professor Mahaffy, on Mount Athos, in 188!). It comes very near to I. subbiflora, Brotero, Boi. Mag., t. 11.30, and for some time I was inclined to regard it as a geographical variety of that species ; but this year, Mr. Max Leichtlin has flowered specimens gathered by Bornmuller from the same locality. These are in better condition than my own specimens, and, I think, justify me in giving the plant a specific name. I propose to call it I. Athoa.

The Portugal plant, the true I. subbiflora of Brotero, is a very tender plant, difficult to cultivate in this country, and frequently bears one flower only, even under favourable conditions — hence the name. The Mount Athos plant is much more robust, and bears three flowers or more. The Portugal plant varies in colour, being sometimes a red-purple, sometimes a blue-purple, and, it is said, sometimes yellow. The Mount Athos flower has a peculiar colour, not unlike that of I. Balkana, a browni«h-red-purple, which is conspicuous in many Asian Irises, which is absent from the western Europe forms, and which begins to make its appearance in the forms from eastern Europe ; it is indeed in many ways an acceptable plant. Lastly, the true I. subbiflora is confined to Portugal, and though there are some allied forms on the Italian Riviera and in south Austria, these in no way connect the Portugal with the Mount Athos form, and the geographical separation between the two itself goes far to justify distinct names. At the same time it is certainly singular that two plants in many respects so much alike should be found in two places, so far apart, each with a restricted habitat, with no clear links between them. A small-lowered somewhat dwarf self-coloured variety of I. germanica, has been very widely but erroneously distributed as I. subbiflora. M.F.

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-- Main.RPries - 2010-04-14
Topic revision: r7 - 19 Jan 2016, Harloiris
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