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■ (SPEC) Iris confusa Sealy

1937, botanical author Sealy

Iris confusa

Iris confusa Sealy (Collected by J. R. Sealy, 1937, China); Subgenus Limniris, Section Lophiris, Ev; to 5' (1.5m); W1; White.

See below:



Sealy (1937) offered the following description of Iris confusa. "Rootstock a slender rhizome marked by the rather widely separated scars of the scale-leaves, producing wide-running stolons, giving rise terminally to a stem which bears leaves scattered along its length and a tuft of leaves at it apex; from the centre of the latter arises a inflorescence. In cultivation out-of-doors in this country [England] the shoots begin to appear about the beginning of June and grow out and produce the apicla tuft of leaves before winter. The stem and leaves pass through the winter and the following spring the inflorescence arises from the centre of the apical tuft of leaves, the stem leaves being then dead, and often fallen. Stem in the field specimen, Handel-Mazzetti 1815, about 30 cm. long, but in cultivation in this country attaining a height of 100 cm, and a diameter of 7-10 mm., elliptic in cross-section, solid when young, hollowed at length; internodes increasing from about 5 cm. at the base to 13 0r 14 cm. at the middle, and then decreasing to about 5 cm. towards the apex. Leaves stout, smooth, glossy on one side, glaucous on the other; Those scattered along the stem increasing in size upwards, the lowest being cataphylls and only 5.5 cm. long, the uppermost 34.5 cm by 3.2 cm; leaves of the apical tuft 30-60 cm. long and 3.5-6 cm wide. Inflorescence 25-35 cm. long, with six to eight branches, rarely the lowest branch itself branched; the lowest bracts often barren and leaf-like and 5-13 cm. long, the remainder 1.5-4 (rarely 4.6) cm. long; outer spathe-valves 1.2-1.5 cm. long. This species has the smallest flowers in the group. Its habit is quite different from that of all the other species except I. Wattii, but the latter differs so greatly in size and colour of its flowers, in its larger spathe-valves and bracts, and in its leaves on the inflorescence, that I. confusa can readily be distinguished from it The habit and much broader leaves of I. confusa should enable it to be easily distinguished from I. japonica, quite apart from its smaller and differently coloured flowers whose tepals are undulate-crenate and not undulate-serrate as in japonica.

*Distribution;* China (Yunnan and Szchechwan)."
Sealy offered an account of the confusion that surrounded Iris confusa, and why he chose the name confusa, in the same artcle in which he gave us his original diagnosis in The Gardeners' Chronicle 413. 4 Dec.; 432. 1 Dec. 1937. The following quotes are excerpts of that article. "Iris Wattii was originally described by Baker (Handb. Irid., 17) in 1892, from a specimen collected by George Watt in Manipur, No. 6337. According to the information on the label, the specimen came from the summit of Khongui Hill, 6,000 feet, on April 9, 1882. Baker described the falls as beardless and apparently without a crest, and referred the species to section Pardanthopsis. Dykes, in his monograph The Genus Iris, 101 (1913) identified I. Wattii with I. Milesii, which belongs to section Evansia, a section characterized by the falls bearing a distinct crest. Dykes stated that Baker's description exactly fitted I. Milesii, except for the apparent absence of a crest, a feature which, as Dykes pointed out, is not always easy to distinguish even in carefully prepared specimens. In 1911, Dykes received seeds of an Iris from China, sent to him by Pere Ducloux, and the plants raised from these seeds proved to be quite unlike any other Iris, inasmuch as the first year they produced stems up to three feet long, with leaves scattered throughout their length, and a fan-like tuft of leaves at their apices, and then the next year they produced and inflorescence from each tuft of leaves. In 1915, Dykes gave an account of this Iris in the Gardeners' Chronicle, Ser. 3, Vol. LVII, p.95, and told how, on going through the Kew Herbarium specimens, he came to the conclusion that his Ducloux Iris (as it may conveniently be styled for the time being) was identical with the Watt specimen from which I. Wattii had been described. As pointed out above, Dykes had previously reduced I. Wattii to I. Milesii, but the Ducloux Iris was so different from I. Milesii that Dykes had no hesitation in restoring I. Wattii as a distinct species. Not only did Dykes identify the Ducloux Iris with I. Wattii, but he also identified with that species certain Yunnan specimens (Ducloux 26, Henry 11821, 11821a and 10599, Hancock 464 and Forrest 1898), and a specimen grown by Messrs. Sanders which was believed to originate from Siam, all of which had previously been referred to I. japonica. It may be mentioned that none of these specimens showed the stem which was so prominent a feature of the Ducloux Iris, but Dykes assumed that they had been cut off just below the terminal tuft of leaves. Dr. Henry, with whom Dykes discussed the matter, seems to have agreed that the plant represented by the specimens he had collected had a similar habit of growth to that of the Ducloux Iris. In his Handbook of the Garden Irises, p. 80 (1924), Dykes maintained the view that his Ducloux Iris was I. Wattii, and the Ducloux plant has now become fairly well-known in cultivation under this name. In the years 1924 and 1926, Dr. Stapf had the Ducloux Iris figured in the Botanical Magazine, but when he came to check the identity of the plant he found that he could not agree with Dykes' determination of it as Wattii. Stapf evidently took the view that the Ducloux Iris was nearer to I. japonica than to I. Wattii, but unfortunately, he had not completed his investigations at the time of his death in 1933, and his work remains unfinished. From his notes, however, it is clear that Stapf regarded the Ducloux Iris as a new species most clearly allied to I. japonica and quite distinct from I. Wattii. It recently became necessary to investigate the identity of a very beautiful Iris which Major Lawrence Johnston had brought from China in 1931, and which was suggested for figuring in the Botanical Magazine.

Major Johnston found this Iris growing near an irrigation canal on the way to the sulphur springs near Tengyueh, Yunnan, and it has grown vigorously in cultivation in his garden at menton, France, whence it has been introduced into gardens in this country during the past two or three years. It had been suggested that this Iris was either just a particularly fine form of Iris japonica, or else a new species, but after investigating the matter, I came to the conclusion that Major Johnston's plant was more likely to be I. Wattii, Baker. Major Johnston's Iris agrees with the Ducloux Iris in having a long stem with a fan-like tuft of leaves at the top, but in other respects the two plants are very different, and it was eviodent that if Major Johnston's Iris was I. Wattii, then the Ducloux Iris must be something else. Further investigation has shown that Major Johnston's plant is undoubtedly the true I. Wattii of Baker, and that Dykes was wrong in identifying the Ducloux Iris with that species. The Ducloux Iris is, apparently, a new species, as Dr. Stapf suggested, and for it I propose the name Iris confusa.

Examination of the material that Dykes included in I. Wattii showed that it consisted of two different plants, A and B, whose most obvious differences are:---
A.--Inflorescence 34-45 cm. long; bracts, 4-9 cm. long, except the lowest, which is 15-23 cm., but always subtends a branch; leaves on the inflorescence-rhachis two, 30-50 cm. long, 3-5 cm. wide, both subtending branches, or the lowermost barren; outer spathe-valve about 2.5 cm long; flower large, about 9 cm. across. B.--Inflorescence 25-35 cm. long; bracts 1.5-4 (rarely4.6) cm. long, the lowest 5-13 cm. and sometimes barren; leaves on the inflorescence-rhachis none; outer spathe-valve 1.2-1.5 cm long; flower small, 4-5 cm across. A corresponds to the original I. Wattii of Baker, and with it Major Johmston's Iris agrees; B is the Ducloux Iris, Iris confusa. Of the specimens reffered to I. Wattii by Dykes, Henry 10599, Henry 11821, Henry 11821a and Handcock 464 belong to Wattii; Ducloux 26 is I. confusa, and Forest 1898 is not referable to either of these species. Other specimens in the Kew Herbarium are: Kingdom Ward 8154 (Delei Valley, Assam), and Forrest 8250 (Tengyueh, Yunnan), both which appear to be I. Wattii; and Handel-Mazzetti 1815 (S.W.Szechwan), which is referable to confusa. In view of the differences between the Ducloux Iris and I. Wattii, it is somewhat surprising that Dykes should have identified them, for even had he taken the differences in the bracts and spathes as variation within a species, he must surely have noticed that the Watt, Henry and Hancock specimens had flowers very much larger than those of his Ducloux Iris. Furthermore, the flowers differ considerably in colour. Dykes himself deswcribed the flowers of the Ducloux Iris as pale mauve-white with orange crests and spots on the falls (Gard. Chron., l.c.), and as white, faintly tinged with pale mauve, with the falls bearing a small orange blotch (Handb. Gard. Irises), descriptions that do not agree verey well with that on the original specimen of Iris Wattii, which reads "Flowers pale lavender-blue with the 3 pistillate petals[i.e., the falls] spotted and striped with yellow and with deep purplish spots round their margins." The latter, however, is an excellent description of the flowers of Major Johnston's Iris/" The Watt specimen, from which I. Wattii was first described, is in fruit, and such flowers as it has are completely withered. Even in this condition, however, it is obvious that when fresh the flowers must have been considerably larger than those of I. confusa. This is also indicated by the tracing of a rough sketch of a flower from Watt's own herbarium, which is attached to the Kew specimen. Baker, it will be remembered, described I. Wattii as apparently without a crest on the falls, but Dr. Stapf, who soakedup one of the falls from a withered flower, was able to see that it actually had a low crest which was apparently wavy but without fimbriations. The crests of the fals in Major Johnston's Iris are entire, and would thus agree perfectly with the condition thaty Stapf found in I. Wattii. The Henry and Hancock specimens, however, have fimbriate crests, but they seem otherwise to agree so well with I. Wattii that I think they should be referred to that species. In I. confusa the crests of the falls are ciliate-fimbriate and different from those of I. Wattii."
A.M., R.H.S. 1925, shown by Walters; J.R.H.S. 51: 1, 1. Jan. 1926: "Pale lilac blue is most common form"--Waddick & Zhao, Iris of China, 1992, illustrated in color;


Iris confusa Sealy; Iris wattii Dykes (1915); Iris japonica subsp. japonica var. confusa Yen, Yang & Waddick, 1995.

Chromosome counts

2n=30, Snoad 1952; 2n=30 Chimphamba, 1973. Retained for this listing as a species but obviously may only be a subspecies of Iris japonica.


Iris confusa cultivars: 'Beccles', 'Chengdu', 'F1 Hybrid', 'Nobody's Child', 'Nova', 'Wattii' (Dykes')


Iris confusa crosses: Advanced Iris confusa Hybrids:

Distribution and Cultivation

Distribution: The distribution of the species gives clues as to its cultural requirements, although plants in cultivation can often tolerate a wider range of variables:
The species is found in the following region: S. China

Cultivation references: SIGNA page 9, 1968; Earnest Luscombe writes
I confusa
Distinct from all other varieties, this species and I. wattii support the main leaf-fans on an elongated basal stem a foot or more high, which is produced from June onwards and overwinters. The flowerstem grows from the leaf fan at the top of the basal stem. The flowers are similar to those of I. japonica.
Division in May-June.
Any fairly rich medium. If grown in a pot under glass extra feeding is necessary in the growing season. A leafy gritty loam is recommended, also the use of plastic pots to conserve soil moisture.
Although this species may be grown outside in a warm sheltered position, it may not flower, and will give certain pleasure in a cold greenhouse.

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-- Main.RPries - 2010-01-08
Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Confusa.JPGJPG Confusa.JPG manage 64 K 30 Jan 2011 - 12:56 IrisP  
Iris-confusa-10Walker.jpgjpg Iris-confusa-10Walker.jpg manage 65 K 24 Sep 2013 - 12:26 BobPries Ken Walker photo; 'Martyn Rix'
Iris-confusa-11Walker.jpgjpg Iris-confusa-11Walker.jpg manage 184 K 24 Sep 2013 - 12:27 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-confusa-1Walker.jpgjpg Iris-confusa-1Walker.jpg manage 20 K 24 Sep 2013 - 12:15 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-confusa-2Walker.jpgjpg Iris-confusa-2Walker.jpg manage 28 K 24 Sep 2013 - 12:22 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-confusa-3Walker.jpgjpg Iris-confusa-3Walker.jpg manage 28 K 24 Sep 2013 - 12:23 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-confusa-4Walker.jpgjpg Iris-confusa-4Walker.jpg manage 79 K 24 Sep 2013 - 12:23 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-confusa-5Walker.jpgjpg Iris-confusa-5Walker.jpg manage 113 K 24 Sep 2013 - 12:24 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-confusa-6Walker.jpgjpg Iris-confusa-6Walker.jpg manage 58 K 24 Sep 2013 - 12:24 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-confusa-7walker.jpgjpg Iris-confusa-7walker.jpg manage 63 K 24 Sep 2013 - 12:24 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-confusa-8Walker.jpgjpg Iris-confusa-8Walker.jpg manage 44 K 24 Sep 2013 - 12:25 BobPries Ken Walker photo; 'Chengdu'
Iris-confusa-9Lawyer.jpgjpg Iris-confusa-9Lawyer.jpg manage 47 K 24 Sep 2013 - 12:26 BobPries Lewis Lawyer photo
Irisconfusa01.jpgjpg Irisconfusa01.jpg manage 44 K 18 Sep 2014 - 03:09 Main.TLaurin Photo by Adele and Lewis Lawyer
IrisconfusaDKrambSIGNA01.jpgjpg IrisconfusaDKrambSIGNA01.jpg manage 48 K 11 Oct 2014 - 13:47 Main.TLaurin Photo by Dennis Kramb-SIGNA
confusa13.JPGJPG confusa13.JPG manage 76 K 27 Dec 2013 - 14:06 Main.TLaurin Photo by K. Brewitt at AIS National Convention 2011
confusa14.JPGJPG confusa14.JPG manage 72 K 27 Dec 2013 - 14:09 Main.TLaurin Photo by K. Brewitt at AIS National Convention 2011
confusa15.JPGJPG confusa15.JPG manage 105 K 27 Dec 2013 - 14:11 Main.TLaurin Photo by K. Brewitt at AIS National Convention 2011
confusa4.JPGJPG confusa4.JPG manage 866 K 13 Jan 2017 - 14:08 Main.TLaurin Photo by Glenn Corlew
Topic revision: r24 - 29 Dec 2017, af.83
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