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■ (SPEC) Iris aitchisonii (Baker) Boissier or 'Aitchisonii'

1882, Botanical author Boissier Iris aitchisonii (Baker) Boiss. (Pierre Edmond Boissier, 1882). Subgenus Scorpiris, (Juno). First described as Xiphion aitchisonii by John Gilbert Baker in Iridaceae then moved to the Genus Iris by Boissier in Fl. Orient. [Boissier] 5: 123. 1882 [Jul 1882]

See below:
Maurice Bousard photoimage from The GardenBiodiversity Heritage LibraryPeter Taggart photo


Additional references: ; A SYNOPSIS OF THE KNOWN; V.
15. X. Aitchisonii, Baker, in Trimen's Journ. 1B75, p. 108. — Bulb ovoid-oblong, an inch thick, covered with copious dark brown membranous fibres. Root leaves 2—3, linear, grass-like, glabrous, as long as the stem, 1/8— 1/6 in. broad, channelled down the face, strongly ribbed and narrowed to a point. Stem 1/2— 1 foot, one or rarely two-flowered, furnished with two or three reduced leaves. Spathe valves two to each flower, green, but membranous at the flowering time, lanceolate, acute, 1 1/2—2 inches long. Ovary sessile, cylindrical, 3/4 inch long ; tube cylindrical, an inch long ; limb 1 1/2—2 inches deep, bright lilac purple ; falls oblong, with a distinct claw, 1/2— 3/4 inch broad, with a bright yellow hairless line down the throat ; inner segments about half an inch long, oblanceolatc, with a long claw, spreading horizontally. Anthers ligulate, yellow, half an inch long, equalling the filaments. Stigmas, including the crests, as long as the falls.

. Abundant on Mount Tilla, in the Jhelum district of the Punjaub, where it was discovered by Dr. Aitchison in 1874, flowering at the end of March. This is decidedly the most interesting discovery that has been made amongst the Irids of late years. In the cultivated species it is most like X. filifolium in general habit and the size and colour of the flower, but with the structure of this present section. Dr. Aitchison haj already taken pains to procure for cultivation his two previous bulb discoveries, Colchicum luteum and Merendcra Aitchisoni, both of which have been figured in the Botanical Magazine, so that this may be cvpucted as a garden plant before long. A yellow-flowered variety of the same plant is in the Kew herbarium from Griffith, gathered in the neighbourhood of Otipore, bearinf; ihe same relation to the type that X. lusitanicum bears to X. vulgare.
A Guide to Species Irises, their Identification and Cultivation, The Species Group of The British Iris Society, 1997, Cambridge;
The Garden 54: 102. 6 August, 1898 illustrated. PLATE 1182. IRIS AITCHISONI. Aitchisonii

The so-called Juno group of bulbous Irises, of which I. persica and I. alata are perhaps the best known examples, has its headquarters in the East ; the species are most abundant in Asia Minor, Persia, Turkestan, and Bokhara. Towards the west the group is represented by I. alata, reaching to Southern Spain and Algiers. Towards the east the group reaches into Afghanistan and the Punjaub, and is here represented by three very wellmarked species, I. Stocksi, I. Fosteriana, and I. Aitchisoni (I omit the little-known I. drepanophylla of Baker), which put on very special characters. The leaves, instead of being fairly broad, as in I. alata and others, tend to become very narrow, almost linear, and the bulb, instead of being thick and fleshy, becomes narrow and thin.

I. Aitchisoni was first described by Mr. Baker in the "Journal of Botany" for 1875 (p. 108) from specimens gathered near Mount Tilla, in the Jhelum district of the Punjaub, by the distinguished botanist Dr. Aitchison, whose services in the Afghan campaign, and later in the Boundary Commission, are so well known. Naturally, it was named after him. It is also said to have been gathered in Afghanistan by Griffith. The bulb is long and slender, with reddish brown tunics, and the fleshy store roots, so characteristic of the Juno section, are also slender and delicate as compared, for instance, with those of I. persica. In these respects I. Aitchisoni resembles I. Fosteriana. The leaves are narrow and lax, and the stem, a foot or more in height, bears one, two, or three flowers. The flower resembles that of other Juno Irises in that the inner segments of the perianth, or "standards,'' are small, narrow, and extended horizontally, not erect, but differs from at least the majority of them in that the outer segments, or " falls, ' have no wing like lateral expalisions. The fall is broadest where the blade joins the claw, but is not extended here into a definite wing. The styles, as in other Juno Irises, are large and conspicuous. Tho specimen figured in the plate is the typical form, purple of one shade or another
being; the dominant colour. The claw of the fall is marked by radiating purple veins on a creamy yellow ground ; these over the blade are fused into a general ground colour of very rich deep purple, with which the full bright orange of a short raised median crest forms a pleasing contrast. The styles are of a lighter purple, and tlie slender horizontal standards are nearly white except at the purple tips. There is also a distinct golden yellow variety, the var. chrysantha (Baker), which Dr. Aitchison says is a stouter plant than the type. The plant occurs near Rawul Pindi, and on the coast thence to Peshawur, the first specimens ever collected being gathered by Vicary in the first Afghan campaign, at the Murgullah Pass on this road. It is also found at Mount Tilla, in the Jhelum District, and throughout the salt range. The yellow form has been found only in the Park at Rawul Pindi, but Aitchison, in 1893, transplanted bulbs of it thence to Mount Tilla. Griffith also gathered the species, probably from the Rawul Pindi source, though Otipore, in Afghanistan (not Otipore, in India), is quoted by Boissier as Grifiith's source.

I fear the plant, charming as it is, will never flourish in our English gardens. Left to itself, it starts into growth in October and November, but is wholly unfitted to withstand an ordinary English winter. Nor is there much hope of keeping it by taking it up and planting it late, for, like I. Fosteriana, it very much resents being moved, a feature which is probably connected with the slender character of the bulb. In general, it needs the treatment of other Juno Irises, but even more than most of them needs a summer's baking. M. Foster.

* Drawn for The Garden from flowers sent by Professor Slichael Foster, Cambridge. Lithographed and printed by J. L. Goffart.
Awarded an Award of Merit by RHS Joint Iris Committee, 11 April 2006. Exhibited by The Director, RBG Kew, Raised from seed sent in 1997 from B.K.Kapahi from Bagnoti in Jammu-Kashmir. Specimen described as "Iris aitchisonii var. aitchisonii, as a flowering plant for exhibition," " Height at flowering 21 cm. Leaves channeled, 20 cm long, 2 mm wide, erect o slightly spreading, adaxially green 137B, abaxially more grayish 191A. Flowers with standards narrowly spatulate, 30 X 3 mm, pendent, violet 77A at apex, fading to 85C at base; falls 55 X 24 mm, spreading upwards and drooping only towards apex, violet 77A fading to 85C, with a central yellow band 13B that is edged white; style crests 50 X 13 mm, centrally 87A fading to 85C or paler at edges."


Xiphion aitchisonii by John Gilbert Baker ----


None of its variations are registered ----


no hybrids yet noted ----

Distribution and Cultivation

Distribution: Region: Afghanistan, see references above

Maurice Bousard photoimage from The GardenBiodiversity Heritage LibraryPeter Taggart photo

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-- BobPries - 2009-12-11
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Aitchisonii_Bousard_edited-1.jpgjpg Aitchisonii_Bousard_edited-1.jpg manage 41 K 21 Sep 2010 - 19:07 BobPries Maurice Bousard photo
Iris-aitchisonii-Peter_Taggart.jpgjpg Iris-aitchisonii-Peter_Taggart.jpg manage 58 K 14 Jan 2015 - 17:24 BobPries Peter Taggart photo
aitchisonii_from_The_Garden.jpgjpg aitchisonii_from_The_Garden.jpg manage 57 K 21 Sep 2010 - 19:08 BobPries image from The Garden
gardenillustrate5498lond_0131.jpgjpg gardenillustrate5498lond_0131.jpg manage 42 K 20 Nov 2013 - 18:34 BobPries Biodiversity Heritage Library
Topic revision: r19 - 05 Dec 2016, BobPries
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