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(SPEC) Iris farreri Dykes

1915, Botanist Dykes

Iris farreri Dykes ( William Rikatson Dykes, 1915, Tibet & Western China); Section Limnirs, Registered as a series Spuriae but now considered a member of the Series Tenuifoliea Color Class-B1L; Light blue self; Collected by Reginald Farrer; The Gardeners' Chronicle 3rd ser. 57: 175. 3 Apr. 1915; syn. Farrer's Iris.

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Dykes in The Gardeners' Chronicle 3rd ser. 57: 175. 3 Apr. 1915


BY the kindness of Professor Bayley Balfour, I have recently had an opportunity of examining the dried specimens of the Irises which Mr. Farrer collected last year in Western China, and described so enthusiastically in his letters already published in these columns.

I remember wondering, as I read the letters, what the Irises could be that Mr. Fairer was describing. It was difficult to identify them with any confidence, and yet it seemed unlikely that any large proportion of them could be new and unknown species, in -view of the fact that Western China has been fairly extensively explored by botanical collectors in recent years.

The later collections sent home by Messrs.Forrest and Purdom have not contained any novelties among the Iris family, and it almost seemed as though even Western China no longer contained any botanical surprises.

As was only to be expected, Mr. Farrer encountered in South Kansu the ubiquitous Iris ensata (see Gard. Chron., October 26, 1914, p. 213), which he described as giving, in some places, a blue tinge to the country side. His specimen, No. F. 29, shows that this Iris there produces its flowers while the leaves are only 4 to 6 inches in length and therefore barely as tall as the flowers themselves. In England it is rare that the climatic conditions allow I. ensata to flower in this way, though the plants do occasionally attempt to send up their flowers with the leaves. The attempt is usually disastrous, owing to late frosts, and the plants then learn wisdom and keep back their main display until the leaves have grown to a foot or more in length, and provided more shelter for the delicate flowers. In, countries where the change from winter to spring is sharper and more decided than it is in these islands, it is obvious that I. ensata is able to send up its flowers simultaneously " with the leaves instead of hiding them among the almost full-grown foliage.

Iris Fahreri, sp. nov.

The only other Iris to which Mr. Farrer gave a well-known name was I. graminea (see Gard. Chron., September 12, 1914, p. 185). " More generous is I. graminea, which abounds in the sere fine herbage of high, hot downs, and now enriches their brown expanse with here and there a dainty, spidery cup of amethystine blue, suggesting a Crocus torn in strips, or I. reticulata, diminished and made anaemic." This was a puzzle, for I. graminea was not known to grow east of the Caucasus, and yet it seemed hardly possible that any other Iris could have been mistaken for this well-known species, with its Plum-scented flowers and curiously flattened stem, which at once distinguishes it from all others. Partly by the process of elimination and partly from the superficial resemblance of the plant and flowers to I. graminea, I feel that we may, with some confidence, identify No. F. 325 with the plant described above. The label on the sheet says: "Abundant by the upland tracks and in open places in the hill valleys of the Min S'an, not below 9,000 feet, nor above 10,000. July 20 (lingering)." This Iris, however, is not I. graminea, but an unknown species to which the name of Iris Farreri* may perhaps not inappropriately be given. This species obviously belongs to the Spuria group, with the members of which it agrees in possessing the ovary with double ridges at each angle, the sharply two-pointed stigma, the orange-red pollen, and the oval blade of the falls separated by a constriction, from the long oval haft.

At first sight, I. Farreri bears a far more striking resemblance to the Balkan I. Sintenisii than to I. graminea, from which it is separated at once by the stem, which is apparently not flattened, and by the long tapering neck to the ovary, a feature which is conspicuously absent in I. graminea. The foliage, too, as far as can be seen from the dried specimens, lacks the polished upper surface, which is so marked in I. graminea. From I. Sintenisii and I. Urumovii it is less easy to separate this new Iris. It differs chiefly, however, in the thin texture of the spathes, of which only the outer valve appears to be keeled, and that but slightly, and in the narrow, slender, somewhat flimsy foliage. In I. Sintenisii the leaves are noticeably tough and leathery, and in I. Urumovii they are very stiff, rigid, and glaucous. The character of the rhizome is not wholly apparent from the available specimens, but the fibrous remains of old leaves that sheathe the base of the growths suggest an affinity in habit to I. songarica, another Eastern and outlying member of the Spuria group. I. Farreri is distinguished from I. Kerneriana by its narrow leaves, by the rounded and not pointed blade to the falls, and probably by the character of the rhizome.

The stem of I. Farreri is about eight inches long, and bears a single head of two flowers. It is closely clothed in about three reduced leaves. The spathes are nearly 4 inches long, narrow, tapering to a fine point, not at all scarious at flowering time, and with a transparent margin in the upper part. Only the outer valve seems to be slightly keeled. The pedicels are 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, and the six-ribbed ovary has a tapering neck about half an inch long.

The flowers apparently bear a striking resemblance to those of I. Sintenisii, as far at * Iris Farreri, spec. nov. e sectione spuria ; Iridl Sintenisii valde sinnlia sed folns angnalis minus conaceis, spathis rotundatia nee conapicue carinatis satis <iin"ert I Kernerianae foliis angustis, segnieiit„rum forma nee non rmzomntlB conformatiom- dissimilis. Ab I. graminea ovario longe rostrato facillime distlnguitur."

least as can be 6een from the dried specimens. The panduriform fall is about 1 1/2 in. long, the small blade being separated from the haft by the constriction characteristic of the Spuria group. The blade is closely veined, and probably minutely dotted, with blue-purple on a grey white ground. The sides of the haft are veined, and the central portion dotted in the same way. The narrow, oblanceolate standards are about as long as, or slightly shorter than, the falls, and of a slightly redder shade of purple. The styles also are of a redder purple, and the stigma consists of two sharply pointed teeth, as in all members of the Spuria group, with which I. Farreri also agrees in having bright, orange-red pollen. The crests of the style are broadly triangular, and not long, narrow, and tapering, as in I. songarica. The foliage is narrow, being barely 1 in. in width, but it overtops the stem, some leaves being as much as 18 or 24 inches long. In their finely ribbed texture, the leaves resemble those of I. humilis or I. Urumovii.
Flora of China

多斑鸢尾 duo ban yuan wei

Iris polysticta Diels; I. songarica Schrenk ex Fischer & C. A. Meyer var. gracilis Maximowicz.

Plants densely tufted. Rhizomes knobbly, woody. Leaves grayish green, narrowly sword-shaped or linear, 17--70 cm × 2--8 mm, midvein absent, base surrounded by reddish purple, persistent sheaths and fibers. Flowering stems 10--40 cm × ca. 7 mm, 1- or 2-leaved; spathes 3, green, lanceolate, 7.5--12 × 1.6--2.5 cm, 2-flowered. Flowers whitish and violet, flattish, 7.5--9 cm in diam.; pedicel 4.5--9 cm. Perianth tube ca. 0.3 cm; outer segments spreading, fiddle-shaped, claw white or yellowish tinged, purple reticulate veined, oblong, 2.5--3 × 0.5--0.7 cm, limb whitish veined purple at center, violet at margin, oblanceolate, ca. 1.5 × 0.9 cm; inner segments spreading, violet, oblanceolate, 3.3--4.5 cm × 7--8 mm. Anthers pinkish, ca. 3 cm. Ovary distally attenuate into beak ca. 1 cm. Style branches violet, 3.5--4 cm. Capsule cylindric, 3.5--7 × ca. 1.6 cm, apex beaked. Fl. Jun--Aug, fr. Jul--Sep.

* Open Picea forests, meadows, sunny banks and damp places near riversides; 2500--3700 m. Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan.


syn. Farrer's Iris.


Chromosome counts






Distribution and Cultivation

Distribution: Region:


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-- Main.RPries - 2010-07-12
Topic revision: r7 - 01 Dec 2016, BobPries
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