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■ (SPEC) Iris barnumae Fos. & Bak.

1888, Botanical authors Foster & Baker _Iris barnumae_ Fos. ( Sir Michael Foster and John Gilbert Baker, 1888, Egypt-Palestine); Section Oncocyclus; 4-12" (10-30 cm); Color Class-Y4L; Flowers 3" (7-8 cm) diameter; purplish violet or yellow.

See below:

barnumae - Mayr.jpgBarnumae Bot Mag 7050.jpgbarnumae ex Gaziantep.jpgbarnumae ssp urmiensis  - Mayr.jpgbarnumaeurmiensis JK4.jpgIris-barnumae-Cindy Rivera.jpgIris-barnumae-Hans Achilles.jpgIris-barnumae-Jim Kurtz.jpgIris-barnumae-Rafael Dominguez.jpgirisbarnumae01.jpg



The Gardeners' Chronicle New Ser. 60: 142. 18 Aug. 1888;
Curtis's Botanical Magazine 115: tab. 7050. 1889, .Baker wrote; "During the last ten years our knowledge of Irises has been greatly enlarged, and instead of about a hundred species for the whole of the north temperate zone, we now know a hundred and forty or a hundred and fifty, most of which are in cultivation. A large proportion of the new discoveries have been made in different parts of Asia. The present plant is a very handsome and distinct novelty. It was sent to Professor Foster by Mrs. Barnum, of the American Mission at Kharput, from the hills two hours distant from Van in Armenia. It has a distinctly concentrated beard, as in the common German Irises, and the colour of the flower is dark purple, without veins of a distinctly different shade; but in other respects, in its mode of growth, habit, and leaves, it agrees with the section Oncocychis, all the species of which inhabit the Oriental region. Our drawing was made from specimens sent by Professor Foster at the beginning of last June.Descr. Rhizome like that of an Oncocychis, shortly creeping with the new buds soon detaching themselves from the old stock. Produced leaves five or six to a tuft, linear, complicate, pale glaucous green, strongly ribbed, half a foot long at the flowering time. Stem one to six inches long, one-headed, bearing a single reduced leaf. Spathes one-flowered; valves lanceolate, two or two and a half inches long, herbaceous till after the flower fades. Ovary cylindrical-trigonous, under an inch long, shortly pedicellate. Perianth-tube as long as the ovary; limb dark purple; outer segments obovate-cuneate, purplish-black, about two inches long by an inch broad, reflexing from haif-way down, furnished down the claw with a beard of yellow hairs tipped with purple ; inner segments orbicular-unguiculate, erect, connivent, larger and brighter-coloured than the outer. Style-branches above an inch long, very convex on the back; crests deltoid. Capsule ellipsoid-trigonous. Seeds large, with a conspicuous pale strophiole.J. G. Baker.
Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1984). Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands 8: 381-450. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
Foster in The Garden, p. 133, February 18, 1893, offers this note: "This iris, a native of the hills of Kurdistan, in the neighborhood of Van, was made known to me by Mrs. Barnum, of Kharput, after whom I have named it. It seems closely allied to I. Mariae, and with that Iris may be classed in the iberica group. The rhizome is slender, and especially when starved has some tendency to creep. The foliage is not unlike iberica, but perhaps narrower and less falcate. The stem is some few inches high. The flower, which is distinctly smaller than iberica, has the fall smaller and narrower than the orbicular standard, both of which are venous red purple marked with darker veins, the standards being lighter in color than the fall and its veins more conspicuous. The style which is horizontal, is of a brownish yellow color marked with red-purple spots or splashes, and bears somewhat triangular crests with finely serrated edges. On the claw of the fall numerous hairs, bright yellow tipped with purple (there are also a few hairs on the claw of the standard), are crowded together into a triangular space, the apex of the triangle pointing forwards and abutting on a signal patch of deep almost black purple, which, however , is much less conspicuous than in I. iberica and many other Oncocyclus Irises. This collection of hairs may be called a beard, but it differs from the beard of a so-called Pogoniris, such as I. pumila, since the hairs cover a relatively wider space, whereas in a Pogoniris Iris they are confined to what is almost a linear space along the median vein. I. barnumae possesses every character of an Oncocyclus Iris except that the hairs on the falls are somewhat crowded together; it seems to me wholly irrational to separate it from the group on this account. Moreover, there are several scattered hairs outside the triangular space spoken of above. Further, a plant found near Urumiah, on the confines of Kurdistan and Persia, kindly sent me by Dr. Cochran, of that place, in every way resembles the plant from Van, save that the hairs, which are dark purple, are much more diffusely scattered. I have have also received from Dr. Cochran a plant almost exactly resembling the typical I. barnumae save that the entire flower is a fine rich yellow; and in this, too, which if I wished I might call var. flava, the hairs on the claw are much more scattered, so that the crowded arrangement of the hairs in the typical form seems a more or less an accidental matter. Mr. Baker, in his "Irideae," has placed I. barnumae in the section Regelia. I can only say that it seems to me to have none of what I consider to be the distinctive features of that group. The typical I. barnumae falls much short of I. iberica in point of beauty owing to the somewhat dull vinous-red-purple color; but the yellow variety is in my eyes an exceedingly charming plant, and it has the additional virtue of being deliciously fragrant, the odor being not unlike the Lily of the Valley."
Van Tubergen 1900: 1909; Krelage 1901; Barr. 1905;
Award of Merit, Royal Horticultural Society 1902, shown by Ware: Hort. Dir. 44: 62. 1903;
Dykes in The Genus Iris, 1913;
The description is based on Foster's original specimens (MS.).
Rootstock , a small rhizome, of somewhat straggling growth.
Leaves , slender, linear, about 6 in. long, slightly glaucous, erect or but little falcate.
Stem , varying in length from 2 to 6 in., the longer stems bearing one reduced leaf.
Spathe valves , narrow, pointed, reaching above the tube, deeply flushed with purple at the tip and extreme edge, r-flowered, 2 in. long.
Pedicel , short.
Ovary, cylindrical trigonous, nearly an inch long.
Tube , about 1 inch.
Falls . The lanceolate blade is not separated by any marked constriction from the cuneate haft. The colour is a dark vinous red purple with darker veins. The large triangular beard consists of close set thin yellow hairs tipped with purple, it is flanked by a few scattered hairs on either side. 2¼ in. long, 1¼ broad.
Standards . The orbicular blade narrows suddenly to a short canaliculate haft. The edges of the connivent blades are reflexed outwards and the haft bears a few hairs on the inner side. The colour is red purple, somewhat lighter than that of the falls with more conspicuous darker veins. 3¼ in. long by 2 3/4 broad.
Styles , nearly horizontal, dotted with purple on a brownish yellow ground; under surface yellow.
Crests , triangular, much recurved, finely serrate, red purple with deeper veins.
Stigma , semicircular with serrate purple edge.
Filaments , short.
Anthers , longer than the filaments.
Pollen , yellow.
Capsule , ellipsoid, trigonal, tapering at either end.
Seeds , of the usual Oncocyclus type, dark brown, wrinkled, pyriform, with conspicuous pale aril.
Fragrance , very noticeable in a warm atmosphere.


The original plants from which the description is taken were obtained in the hills about two hours' journey from Van. Others that Foster received from Urumiah in 1887 had a dark purple almost black beard, but I have no doubt that the colour of the hairs in an Iris beard is a very untrustworthy character. It has been known to vary from year to year in the same individuals. Foster received specimens of the yellow-flowered form from Hoog in 1900 and his note says distinctly "a yellow Barnumae" (MS.). Of the specimens sent to him by Cochran from Urumiah, some produced yellow, and some purple, flowers. In view of this fact and also because there are purple and yellow-flowered forms of many other species of Iris, I have little hesitation in reducing I. urmiensis to a mere variety of I. Barnumae.

Both forms are distinguished from all other Oncocyclus Irises except I. atropurpurea by their flowers of a clear bright colour, not conspicuously blotched or coarsely veined.

If the identity of the dark-bearded form of I. Barnumae from Urumiah with the type is admitted,

I see no means of separating from them Barbey's I. Mariae. The signal patch is perhaps slightly more prominent but otherwise the plants seem identical.
Award of Merit, R.H.S. 1931; The Gardeners' Chronicle 3rd. Ser. 89: 440 6 June 1931;
Yr. Bk., I.S.(E.) 42: 1933;



Barnum Iris.

Iris barnumiae Foster & Baker, Gard. Chron., ser. 3, 4: 182 (1888).

Iris polakii f. barnumiae (Foster & Baker) Stapf, Bot. Mag. 155: t. 9279 (1932). This name is accepted. ----


2n=20, (Simonet 1934), 2n=20 (Awishai & Zohary 1980). ----


Iris barnumae Foster & Baker
  • subsp barnumae, forma barnumae, forma protonyma (Stapf) Mathew & Wendelbo, forma urmiensis (Hoog) Mathew & Wendelbo
  • subsp. demavendica (Bornm.) Mathew & Wendelb
Iris barnumae cultivars are; 'Barnumae Mariae'; 'Demavendica', 'Jewel At Midnight', 'Polakii', 'Protonyma', 'Urmiensis','Zenobiae'




Distribution & Cultivation

barnumae - Mayr.jpgBarnumae Bot Mag 7050.jpgbarnumae ex Gaziantep.jpgbarnumae ssp urmiensis  - Mayr.jpgbarnumaeurmiensis JK4.jpgIris-barnumae-Cindy Rivera.jpgIris-barnumae-Hans Achilles.jpgIris-barnumae-Jim Kurtz.jpgIris-barnumae-Rafael Dominguez.jpgirisbarnumae01.jpg

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-- Main.RPries - 2009-11-08
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Barnumae_Bot_Mag_7050.jpgjpg Barnumae_Bot_Mag_7050.jpg manage 268 K 04 Feb 2014 - 16:54 BobPries Biodiversity Heritage Library
Iris-barnumae-Cindy_Rivera.jpgjpg Iris-barnumae-Cindy_Rivera.jpg manage 59 K 21 Nov 2016 - 16:32 BobPries Cindy Rivera photo
Iris-barnumae-Hans_Achilles.jpgjpg Iris-barnumae-Hans_Achilles.jpg manage 48 K 21 Nov 2016 - 16:35 BobPries Hans Achilles photo
Iris-barnumae-Jim_Kurtz.jpgjpg Iris-barnumae-Jim_Kurtz.jpg manage 156 K 21 Nov 2016 - 16:32 BobPries Jim Kurtz photo
Iris-barnumae-Rafael_Dominguez.jpgjpg Iris-barnumae-Rafael_Dominguez.jpg manage 174 K 21 Nov 2016 - 16:36 BobPries Rafael Diaz Dominguez photo
barnumae_-_Mayr.jpgjpg barnumae_-_Mayr.jpg manage 24 K 06 Feb 2010 - 01:57 Main.Betsy881 Photo by Josef Mayr
barnumae_ex_Gaziantep.jpgjpg barnumae_ex_Gaziantep.jpg manage 133 K 05 Feb 2014 - 23:19 Main.Betsy881 Photo by Sean Zera
barnumae_ssp_urmiensis__-_Mayr.jpgjpg barnumae_ssp_urmiensis__-_Mayr.jpg manage 19 K 06 Feb 2010 - 01:57 Main.Betsy881 Photo by Josef Mayr
barnumaeurmiensis_JK4.jpgjpg barnumaeurmiensis_JK4.jpg manage 71 K 26 Jul 2011 - 13:51 Main.Betsy881 Photo by Jim Kurtz
irisbarnumae01.jpgjpg irisbarnumae01.jpg manage 64 K 07 Oct 2014 - 02:38 UnknownUser Photo by Kirsten
Topic revision: r26 - 22 Nov 2016, BobPries
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