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Arilbreds in The World of Iris

The Arilbreds

Hybrids involving both bearded irises and arils are known as arilbreds. Most arilbreds are advanced-generation hybrids involving both oncocyclus and Regelia ancestry.

Iris enthusiasts of the late nineteenth century were well acquainted with the beauty, grace and novelty of the oncocyclus and Regelia irises. From gardening in the rainy temperate climate of Europe, they were also keenly aware of the difficulties in cultivating them. By 1885, some pioneering hybridizers had the idea of crossing arils with bearded irises in an attempt to preserve aril traits in more gardenable plants. Damman's oncobred 'Alkemen' from I. paradoxa X I. swertii was probably the first of these arilbreds to be named, in 1896. It was soon followed by numerous arilbreds created by Foster, Denis, and the Van Tubergen company.

Without knowledge of chromosome counts or homologies, early iris breeders of necessity used an experimental approach in crossing their plants. Because most of the arils and bearded irises at that time were diploids, nearly all the early arilbreds were diploid. Consequently, the improvement of arilbreds was plaqued by hybrid sterility and poor germination, and progress was slow. By the middle 1920's, William Mohr had created several attractive but infertile regeliabreds and oncobreds. In 1925, the diploid variety 'William Mohr' (I. gatesii X 'Parisiana') was introduced. The large, globular blooms attracted much attention and many attempts were made to cross it with tall bearded varieties. Most failed, but occasionally 'William Mohr' set a small pod with a seed or two. We know that those seeds were the result of unreduced gametes produced by 'William Mohr'. Through these unreduced gametes, 'William Mohr' had a great influence on the development of some of the tetraploid arilbreds.

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Interested in Arils and Arilbreds? Please visit the: Aril Society International website.

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Topic revision: r4 - 20 May 2021, TerryLaurin
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