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■ (SPEC) Iris lortetii Barbey

1881, Botanical author Barbey

Iris lortetii Barbey (William Barbey, 1881, Lebanon); Section Oncocyclus; 12-20" (30-50 cm); Color Code-S9L; Flowers 8-9 cm in diameter, somewhat pinkish-rose; standards orbicular, whitish or pale lavender veined reddish, falls reflexed, very pale lavender or whitish ground, with both sparsely and densely dotted areas of pinkish-maroon and a reddish signal patch, beard sparse brown; style purplish-brown with reddish brown lobes;

See below:
lorteti01.jpglorteti02.jpglorteti03.jpglorteti04.jpglortetii.jpglortetii5.JPGlortetii50.JPGlortetii - Fragman-Sapir.jpglortetii - yellow variant.jpglortetii 2.jpgLortetii Bot Mag 7251.jpglortetii edited-1.jpgScreenshot 2021-04-14-20-07-40-148 com.whatsapp2.jpg


Boiss. Fl. Or. 5: 131. 1881.
Baker in Curtis's Botanical Magazine 118: tab. 7251. 1892 provides the following description ; "This section Oncocyclus of the genus Iris has received great attention of late years, and now we are acquainted with a dozen distinct species. It belongs entirely to the hot arid regions of Western Asia and the species therefore require special care in an English garden. Professor Foster dealt fully with this question in a lecture which he delivered during the present summer, which will be published shortly in extenso in the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society. The present plant occupies an intermediate position between I. susiana and I. iberica, both of which have been figured in ths Botanical Magazine, the former on tab. 91 and the later on table 5847. It was first found by Dr. Lortet, after whom it is named, about the year 1880, in dry thickets on the slope of the southern part of Lebanon range, at an elevation of about two thousand feet above sea-level. Our drawing was made from a plant flowered last May by H. J. Elwes, esq., F.L.S., of Colesborn, Andoversford, Gloucestershire. We have it at Kew and it is doing well.

*Descr.* Rootstock stout, short-creeping. Leaves four or five in a basal tuft, ensiform, weak, glaucous, falcate, under a foot long at the flowering time. Stem one-flowered about as long as the leaves. Spathe very ventricose, three or four inches long; outer valves lanceolate, pale green; pedicel short. Ovary cylindrical-trigonous, an inch long. Perianth tube cylindrical, about as long as the ovary; limb three or four inches broad; outer segments obovate, much reflexed, two inches broad, pale grey lilac with darker stripes, copious minute red-brown dots, a dark red-brown throat and a broad claw below it with scattered gland-tipped brown hairs; inner segments incurved, orbicular, three inches broad, narrowed suddenly to a distinct claw, plain pale lilac. Style branches above an inch long, convex on the back; crests large, quadrate. Anther pale yellow, linear, about as long as the flattened brown filament."
Yr. Bk, I.S.(E.) 42. 1933;
The Garden. An illustrated weekly journal of horticulture in all its branches [ed. William Robinson], vol. 43: p. 130, t. 897, fig. 2 (1893) Sir Michael Foster wrote about the Oncocyclus group in the preceding reference. His comments on lortetii were "I. LORTETI (Barbey, Herbor. au Levant, p. 178, t. 7). — This most beautiful Iris was discovered some years ago between Meis and Hounin, in South Lebanon, by Dr. Lortet, the accomplished naturalist of Lyons. It was described by Barbey, " Herborisations au Levant," p. 178 1882, who there gives a large coloured figure of it. Thanks to the unwearied zeal of M. Max Leichtlin, a considerable stock of roots has recently been imported from Palestine.

ln general features it comes very close to I. Sari, but its wonderful colouring puts it by itself as, perhaps, the most beautiful Iris in the world. In the specimens gathered by Lortet the outer/ segments are described and figured as showing a very pale blue ground covered with crimson spots, which, scattered sparsely over the marginal parts of the fall, are concentrated into a dark crimson patch or "signal "in the centre beneath the end of the style ; the inner segments or standards are similarly described as being of a delicate pale rose. In a plant flowered by myself this summer the falls showed a creamy yellow ground marked with crimson spots, concentrated at the centre into a dark crimson signal, while the standards were nearly pure white, marked with very thin violet vines, hardly visible at a distance. The plant figured in Botanical Magazine, t. 7251, from Mr. Elwes' garden gives the prevailing tone of the standards as a light violet, while the veins, spots, and signal on the fall a-e purple.

I learn that the plants imported by M. Max Leichtlin show considerable variation in colour ; apparently, however, the "note" of the plant is a peculiarly charming combination of crimson spots and blue or violet veins on a white o' creamy yellow ground.

The flower figured by Barbey is as large as that of an ordinary or rather small I. susiana; the one shown in the plate is not quite so large. I imagine that, when well grown, the flower will be found to be about as large, but on the whole rather smaller than that of a well-grown I. susiana. When the plant is well grown, the foliage seems to be larger, longer, and broader than even that of I. susiana.
Krel. 1892; 1913; Van T. 1900; 1938;
Revue horticole, serié 4, vol. 74: (1902)
Dykes, The Genus Iris, 1913

Rootstock , stout, short-creeping.
Leaves , ensiform, 6-9 in. long, ¾ in. broad.
Stem , about a foot long, bearing two reduced leaves.
Spathe valves , 5 in. long, green or slightly scarious in upper part, slightly keeled.
Pedicel , practically none.
Ovary , cylindrical, 1¼ in. long, gradually narrowing to the tube with no definite separation.
Tube , 1½ in. much rounded trigonal, green, becoming purple-spotted in the upper half.
Falls , much reflexed; the creamy ground is covered with minute crimson dots, sparsely scattered near the margin but becoming concentrated into a dark crimson patch or signal. The beard is scanty, of large scattered brown hairs, becoming short and velvety just before the signal.
Standards , orbicular, 3-4 in. in diameter, white with very thin reddish-violet veins, and dotted with reddish-brown spots on the keel and haft but with no hairs.
Styles , much arched and keeled, deep crimson red.
Crests , subquadrate, with serrated edge, finely dotted crimson on cream.
Stigma , semi-circular, entire.
Filaments , shorter than the anthers, white.
Anthers , cream, very large and long.
Pollen , cream.
Capsule , ellipsoid, trigonal in section, dehiscing below the apex.
Seeds , pyriform, with conspicuous white aril.


This is perhaps the most beautiful of all Irises. It has not so large a flower as that of I. Gatesii but the great wavy pale pinkish-violet standards and the closely crimson-dotted falls, which are sharply reflexed and clasp the stem, form a delightful colour scheme. Unfortunately it seems to be one of the most difficult to cultivate among the difficult members of its class. For suggestions as to its culture, see the introduction to the Oncocyclus section.
Wal. 1934; Hocker 1937;
Amer. Col. 1939;
F.C.C., Amsterdam 1893; F.C.C., R.H.S. 1893, shown by Van T.; Hort. Dir. 35: 61. 1894;




syn. Lebanon Iris; Lortet Iris. ----


Iris lortetii has the following variations; 'Lortetii Alba', 'Samariae'. ----


Iris lortetii crosses include;

¼ Iris lortetii crosses ----

Distribution and Cultivation

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-- Main.RPries - 2009-12-03
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Lortetii_Bot_Mag_7251.jpgjpg Lortetii_Bot_Mag_7251.jpg manage 290 K 13 Feb 2014 - 18:13 BobPries Biodiversity Heritage Library
Screenshot_2021-04-14-20-07-40-148_com.whatsapp2.jpgjpg Screenshot_2021-04-14-20-07-40-148_com.whatsapp2.jpg manage 470 K 28 Jan 2022 - 22:20 YoungBotanist  
lorteti01.jpgjpg lorteti01.jpg manage 67 K 27 Dec 2015 - 16:28 UnknownUser Photo scanned from the Herbert Kerr slide collection
lorteti02.jpgjpg lorteti02.jpg manage 61 K 27 Dec 2015 - 16:30 UnknownUser Photo scanned from the Herbert Kerr slide collection
lorteti03.jpgjpg lorteti03.jpg manage 76 K 27 Dec 2015 - 16:32 UnknownUser Photo scanned from the Herbert Kerr slide collection
lorteti04.jpgjpg lorteti04.jpg manage 112 K 27 Dec 2015 - 16:34 UnknownUser Photo scanned from the Herbert Kerr slide collection
lortetii.jpgjpg lortetii.jpg manage 36 K 26 Feb 2010 - 16:55 Main.Betsy881 Photo by Ross
lortetii5.JPGJPG lortetii5.JPG manage 311 K 02 Apr 2024 - 14:38 UnknownUser Photo by Jeff Bennett-Dry Creek Garden
lortetii50.JPGJPG lortetii50.JPG manage 257 K 02 Apr 2024 - 14:39 UnknownUser Photo by Jeff Bennett-Dry Creek Garden
lortetii_-_Fragman-Sapir.jpgjpg lortetii_-_Fragman-Sapir.jpg manage 40 K 06 Feb 2010 - 21:36 Main.Betsy881 Phoyo by Fragman-Sapir
lortetii_-_yellow_variant.jpgjpg lortetii_-_yellow_variant.jpg manage 20 K 26 Feb 2010 - 16:54 Main.Betsy881 Photo by Ross
lortetii_2.jpgjpg lortetii_2.jpg manage 40 K 26 Feb 2010 - 16:54 Main.Betsy881 Photo by Ross
lortetii_edited-1.jpgjpg lortetii_edited-1.jpg manage 46 K 03 Dec 2009 - 02:21 UnknownUser Plate from Dykes' The Genus Iris
Topic revision: r23 - 02 Apr 2024, TLaurin
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