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■ (SPEC) Iris cypriana Bak. & Fos.

1888, Botanical authors Baker & Foster

Iris cypriana Baker & Foster ( John Gilbert Baker and Sir Michael Foster, 1888, Cyprus); Section Iris . TB; Color Class-B9M; "Standards obovate, lavender violet; falls wedge-shaped, drooping, hyacinth violet, the color ending abruptly at end of beard;" "Haft white reticulated yellow-brown; pollen cream; beard conspicuous, white, orange tipped; foliage glaucous green, distinctly narrow for so large a plant" "stalk flexuous; well and widely branched growth variable; 3-4 ft." "The true variety is practically unknown in the trade. Trojana, which is frequently sold under this name has purple flushed spathes while mesopotamica has erect stem and much broader, greener foliage than cypriana. Both these last two and often seedlings thereof require care and protection in the north to a greater or lesser degree."--Bulletin of the American Iris Society; "Purple bicolor with standards pale blue purple, 40 inches; June"--'Bearded Irises Tried at Wisley' p. 127 J.R.H.S. 1928.

See below:


In The Gardeners' Chronicle New Ser. 4: 182.18 Aug. 1888 Baker and Foster gave the following comments and original diagnosis; "A tall large-flowered Iris of the Pogoniris group, with a massive compressed branching many-flowered scape, 3 feet or more in height. The spathe-valves are conspicuously navicular while the flower is in bud, and become more or less scarious during flowering.The blade of the obovate cuneate falls, which is 12 cm. long by 6 ½ broad, is a fine somewhat reddish-lilac, with thin inconspicuous darker veins; the claw is marked by thick greenish-brown branching veins on a creamy-white ground. These veins spread over the base of the blade and end abruptly at a transverse line drawn through the end of the beard, which is massive, reaching far beyond the styles, the stout hairs being white, tipped with orange, especially at the back. The under surface of the claw is marked with purple spots.The blade of the oblong-unguiculate standard, 9 cm. long by 6 cm. broad, is of a lighter more bluish lilac. The long claw, 2 to 3 cm. in length, is marked with reddish brown spots arranged in broken lines.The relatively long tube is light green with faint purple streaks in continuation of the claws of the standards.
This Iris, by its inflorescence, belongs to the I. pallida group, though the peduncles are relatively longer, and has a certain superficial resemblance to I. pallida itself, but appears to me to differ from it, to the value of a species, in the following points.1. In I. cypriana the spathe valves and peduncular bracts are conspicuously navicular, and at flowering time are scarious in part only, sometimes only half scarious, the extent varying according to dryness of season, and are brown scarious.In I. pallida the spathe valves are never navicular, and are wholly scarious-paper-white scarious-long before flowering, while the buds are still immature, and that whatever the weather. This is a very marked feature of I. pallida and makes itself felt in the offspring of I. pallida. In I. plicata, or I. Swertii, which are hybrids of I. pallida, the spathe valves are as scarious-and as early scarious-as in I. pallida itself. I am consequently led to lay great stress on this character.2. The form of the perianth segment is different in the two. In I. cypriana the fall is obvate-cuneate, in I. pallida it is more or less broadly ovate, in some cases very broad and short, in other cases rather longer in proportion to breath, but never so relatively elongate as in I. cypriana. The standard similarily in I. cypriana is oblong-unguiculate, with a long claw; In I. pallida orbicular-obovate, with a short claw.3. In I. pallida the tube is very short, the ovary is broad, very distinctly hexagonal with six distinct grooves, becoming as a ripe capsule, a short, broad ellipsoid.In I, cypriana both tube and ovary are relatively longer, and the ovary though really hexagonal with six grooves, has three sides broader then the others, so that it appears somewhat trigonal, and ripens into a capsule which is an elongate ellipsoid.It is true the ovary in the different varieties of I. pallida varies a good deal in length relative to breadth; some are very short and broad, others are relatively long, but in each case the end is rounded obtusely and abruptly. In I. cypriana the ends thin away more gradually from the middle. I do not know what exact term to use-it is not unlike a torpedo with blunt ends.4. The styles in I. cypriana are relative to breadth, longer than in I. pallida, which are notably short and broad. The crests in I. cypriana are larger and more quadrate.5. The leaves are relatively narrower in I. cypriana.6. The habit is very different. I. cypriana dies down to a large extent in late summer, and conspicuous shoots, as in I. sicula, very closely resembling similar shoots occurring at the same time in I. susiana, appear after the autumn rains. I. pallida does not die down until winter, and then sometimes partially, but sometimes wholly, no leaves remaining above the soil. It will be interesting to observe the characters of the seeds, which I hope to do in the course of the summer.I do not think I. cypriana can be a hybrid of I. pallida-the only possible other parent would be I. germanica-and then one would expect a very different coloration.The root of this fine large new bearded Iris was sent to Kew from Cyprus by Mrs. Kenyon, together with roots of a white Iris, which proved to be identical with I. albicans (Lange). The handsome large flowers make it a welcome addition to our gardens and it has the additional merit of being a late flowerer-the latest of the bearded Irises-later than I. pallida, and at this moment (July 17) is in flower in my garden at the same time as I. Monnieri and I. aurea. It is a very conspicuous and pleasing sight at a distance. I can distinctly see the large white beard 30 or more yards off. It has a slight fragrance resembling that of I. germanica rather than that of I. pallida.It seems somewhat impatient of autumnal and winter rains, and should, I think, as indicated by the manner in which it shoots in autumn, be planted in a dry position. I fancy that it would profit by being "roasted" in summer, and the extremely free way in which it has flowered this summer is probably due to the, in some ways, beneficent drought of last summer."
Van T. 1900; Dammann 1901; Van W. 1912; Sheets 1928; Forbes 1938;
Dykes in The Genus Iris, 1913;Description.Rootstock , a stout rhizome. Leaves , ensiform, of a slightly glaucous blue-green somewhat like those of I. pallida but distinctly narrow for so large a plant. Stem , about 3 feet in height, bearing a terminal head of 3 flowers, and 2-3 lateral heads each of at least 2 flowers, the lowest branch being the longest and bearing 3 flowers. The stem is often bent and unable to support itself erect. Spathes , not more than 2 in. long, very broad and navicular, the outer valves being almost entirely scarious, the inner much less so. Pedicel , extremely short. Ovary , more equally six grooved than that of I. mesopotamica. Tube , I in. long, light yellow-green, with faint broken purple stripes. Falls , the elongated wedge-shaped blade narrows gradually to the broad wedge-shaped haft, which is veined with brown on a light ground. The blade is of a pale blue-lilac overlaid with a reddish shade and the prominent beard is white, slightly tipped with yellow in front, becoming almost wholly yellow at the base. The shape of the blade is peculiar, for the widest point is at the extreme end. 4½ in. by 2¼-2½ in. Standards , the obovate blade is of a paler shade of lilac than the falls and the deeply channeled haft is dotted and veined with brown-purple, on the inner side. Styles , paler than the standards except along the median ridge. Crests , broad, triangular, serrate. Stigma , entire. Filament , colourless. Anthers , cream. Pollen , cream. Capsule , pointed at the upper end and tapering also at the lower. Seeds , pyriform or ellipsoid, not compressed.Observations.The plant, as first described by Baker and Foster in the Gard. Chron. 1888, II. p. 182, is now very rare in cultivation. It appears, indeed, to be almost, if not quite, unknown in England, though I had the good fortune to find it last year in a garden in the south of France. Except that the stem needs some support to enable it to bear the weight of the huge flowers, it is one of the most decorative of all Irises. The flowers are of large dimensions and in the original plants were of a distinctly reddish-purple or lilac.An unfortunate confusion has arisen owing to the fact that some plants were sent to Foster as I. Junonia in 1903 or 1904, which were only a blue-purple flowered form of I. cypriana and not true I. Junonia (see p. 174). Foster thereupon proposed to call his original I. cypriana I. Junonia var. cypriana owing to the priority of Kotschy's name. (Cf. Gard. Chron. for July 1st, 1905.) Our knowledge of the plant is still very inadequate, and its true relation to such allies as I. trojana, I. mesopotamica and I. Junonia cannot at present be defined. The difficulty of working out the relationships of these plants lies in the fact that they need a warm climate and a heavy dry limestone soil, if they are to flower well and set seeds. Moreover, they often suffer by reason of their habit of beginning to grow in the autumn, only to have the growths battered and broken, if not destroyed, by rough weather in the winter. The plants are then too feeble to flower in spring.


Cyprian Iris; Sweetly fragrant. Iris cypriana. Often confused with Iris mesopotamica and Iris trojana. Mathew suggests that all these names may be stable populations of Iris germanica. [Iris cypriana Baker & Foster]. ----


Iris cypriana cultivars:
  • 'cypriana Tarsus'


Iris cypriana crosses:
  • 'Ambrose Wiseman', 'Amy Brandon Thomas', 'Arac', 'Bashi-Bazouk', 'Bolingbroke', 'Caterina', 'Crusader', 'Erato', 'Halstead', 'Hamdo'illah', 'John Foster', 'Kashmir White', 'Korolcyp', 'Lady Foster', 'Mareschal', 'Mother Of Pearl', 'Muriel', 'Nirvana', 'Red Ember', 'Shelford Chieftain', 'Stamboul', 'Tamerlan', 'Yolande'.


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-- Main.RPries - 2010-02-08
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Cypriana.JPGJPG Cypriana.JPG manage 48 K 30 Jan 2011 - 13:00 IrisP  
cypriana.JPGJPG cypriana.JPG manage 399 K 06 May 2019 - 21:55 UnknownUser Photo scanned from the Carol Lankow slide collection
Topic revision: r15 - 29 Mar 2022, TLaurin
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