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■ (SPEC) Iris persica L.

1753, Botanical author Linneaus

Iris persica L. (Carl Linnaeus, 1753, Eastern Asia Minor, Persia); Subgenus Scorpiris (Juno); Color Code B3L; Sweet fragrance.

See below:


Parkinson, Paradiscus 173. 1629;
Linn. in Species Plantarum ed. 1:39, 1753; cult. in 1753 at Cambr. Bot. Gard., Eng.;
Dykes in The Genus Iris 1913 notes;

Rootstock . An ovoid bulb with membranous coats, the outer being brown, and with several fleshy roots, persistent in the resting state.
Leaves , four or five to a tuft, linear complicate, almost erect. About 2 or 3, in. long at flowering time, becoming finally about 6 in. long, with a white, obscurely ciliated edge.
Stem , extremely short, bearing usually one, but sometimes two flowers.
Spathe valves , nearly colourless with a few green veins, especially towards the top, narrow, 2-3 or more inches in length, one-flowered.
Pedicel , very short.
Ovary, cylindrical.
Tube , usually 2-3 inches in length but somewhat variable.
Falls. The haft bears a median ridge of yellow or orange, on which are usually about three rows of black dots, on either side of which the colour is a pale bluish green. In its upper part the haft expands into two almost colourless triangular wings or flanges, which curve upwards and embrace the style. The blade is of a rounded oblong shape, marked with the conspicuous orange ridge and a dark blotch of black or brown purple, 2-2 1/2 in. long by 1/2 in. broad, of a pale greenish blue.
Standards, about 3/4 in. in length, horizontal or depressed with a canaliculate haft and three more or less distinct teeth, that in the centre being much the longest, white shaded with pale blue.
Styles , about an inch long, pale blue green.
Crests, large, almost quadrate with a coarsely toothed outer edge.
Stigma, oblong, entire, with a finely crenate edge.
Filaments, white, twice as long as the anthers.
Anthers, white.
Pollen , white, spherical, each grain bearing about 20 hexagonal bosses.
Capsule , 1 1/2--2 in. long, tapering at either end, trigonal with loose, bulging, papery walls.
Seeds , oval rather than spherical and slightly pointed at either end, not compressed.

This beautiful species has been in cultivation in England for three centuries, for it was accurately described by Parkinson in 1629 (Paradisus, p. 172) as having flowers of a "pale blue russetish colour." His experience of its behaviour in cultivation tallies with its reputation in these days: "This (Iris), as it is very rare, so it seldome beareth flowers with us."

Linnaeus' description of I. persica may be traced back to Parkinson though Royen's Florae Leydensis Prodromus, p. 18, and Tournefort's Institutiones Rei Herbariae, p. 363, and there is therefore no doubt that the plant now known as I. persica is the same that Parkinson described. In 1787 a good drawing of this Iris was published as the first plate in the Botanical Magazine.

I. persica is not easy to cultivate in England although the reason for this may be that it is so difficult to obtain strong bulbs with which to make a beginning. If this could be done and seedlings raised, it might be possible to get better and more robust specimens. Unfortunately, the plant seems to fail in sandy soils, and from the stiff soils, in which it flourishes, it is almost impossible to lift the bulbs with their store roots intact. If these are broken off the bulb will be greatly weakened, and even if it succeeds in producing a small flower it will almost certainly fail to ripen seeds, and has no chance of forming a sound bulb for the following year. Some help may perhaps be given by pinching out the bud as soon as it appears, and so throwing the energies of the plant into the building up of the new bulb. It is possible, however, that even in their native homes these bulbs grow from seeds to flowering size and then perish, or at any rate leave behind them such small offsets that several years must elapse before they reach flowering size. Evidence for this may perhaps be found in the marked difference in the leaves of flowering and non-flowering plants. Bulbs that are going to flower send up blunt, broad, short leaves, while non-flowering bulbs have longer, narrower and much more pointed leaves.

In recent years a better knowledge of Asia Minor and Persia has shown that there are many Irises growing in various localities which some botanists have taken to be mere colour forms of I. persica, while others have given them specific names. Many of them have been introduced into our gardens by the enterprise of Herr Siehe of Mersina. In 1905 the latter published in the Allgemeine Botanische Zeitschrift a paper on these Irises, and it is on the details there given, checked by observations of living plants, which I have obtained from Herr Siebe, that the various plants are separated and described.

In the present state of our knowledge we hardly know what value should be attached to the presence or absence of the horny white edge to the leaves as a specific character. When the flowers appear, it is in some cases difficult to distinguish the leaves by this character, which however becomes considerably more marked before the foliage withers away.
Listed by Dickson 1794;
Curtis's Botanical Magazine No.1 Table 1, 1786 The Persian bulbous Flower-de-luce. Parkinson's. Paradiscus. p. 172. A native of Persia. Flowers in February and March. Its beauty, early appearance, and fragrant blossoms, make it highly esleemed by all lovers of flowers; like the Hyacinth or Narcissus it will blow within doors in a water-glass, but stronger in a small pot of sand, or sandy loam; a few flowers will scent a whole apartment: it will also blossom in the open air, but requires warmth and shelter; it is propagated by offsets and seeds; the bed flowering roots are imported from Holland, they bear forcing well; and hence this plant may be had to flower a full month or six weeks in succession. Parkinson remarks, that in his time (1629) it was very rare, and seldom bore flowers.
Krelage 1875; Van T. 1900; 1909; Macoun; Van W. 1906; Wal. 1913; Ainsley 1928;
Gardening Illustrated 54: 140. 5 Mar. 1932, illustrated;
Hocker 1937; Starker 1938; Stewart 1939;


Persian Iris; Coresantha persica Alef.; Juno persica Tratt; Iris praecox Salisb.

Chromosome counts

2n=20, Hall, 2000


Iris persica cultivars include; 'Haussknechtii' 'Mardinensis', 'Persica Bolleana','Persica Issica', 'Persica Sieheana'


Iris persica crosses; 'Amelia Beatrice', 'Per-Purs', 'Persind Harbinger', 'Persind Ruby', 'Sindpers', 'Sind-Pers Blanche'. 'Sindperspur'

Distribution and Cultivation

Distribution: Region: Southeast Turkey to Northern Iraq in the following states: 33 Transcaucasus, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey

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-- Main.RPries - 2010-04-20
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Iris-persica-11.jpgjpg Iris-persica-11.jpg manage 92 K 18 Jan 2015 - 18:47 BobPries  
Iris-persica-5.jpgjpg Iris-persica-5.jpg manage 90 K 18 Jan 2015 - 18:47 BobPries  
Iris-persica-6.jpgjpg Iris-persica-6.jpg manage 58 K 18 Jan 2015 - 18:48 BobPries  
Iris-persica-7.jpgjpg Iris-persica-7.jpg manage 108 K 18 Jan 2015 - 18:48 BobPries  
Iris_persica_189.jpgjpg Iris_persica_189.jpg manage 35 K 12 Dec 2014 - 19:01 BobPries Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library
Persica-Tony_Hall.jpgjpg Persica-Tony_Hall.jpg manage 246 K 18 Jan 2015 - 18:46 BobPries Tony Hall photo
Persica-Tony_Hall3.jpgjpg Persica-Tony_Hall3.jpg manage 193 K 18 Jan 2015 - 18:53 BobPries Tony Hall photo
Persica-Tony_Hall_2.jpgjpg Persica-Tony_Hall_2.jpg manage 268 K 18 Jan 2015 - 18:51 BobPries Tony Hall photo
Persica_Bohnert_sampled.jpgjpg Persica_Bohnert_sampled.jpg manage 92 K 18 Jan 2015 - 17:48 BobPries Peter Bohnert photo
Stenophylla.jpgjpg Stenophylla.jpg manage 74 K 20 Jan 2015 - 13:18 BobPries sampled
irispersica01.jpgjpg irispersica01.jpg manage 57 K 08 Oct 2014 - 15:40 Main.TLaurin Photo by Kirsten
persica-Bohnert.jpgjpg persica-Bohnert.jpg manage 331 K 18 Jan 2015 - 17:48 BobPries Peter Bohnert photo
persica_sm.jpgjpg persica_sm.jpg manage 43 K 11 Nov 2010 - 01:31 UnknownUser Curtis's Botanical Magazine table 1
Topic revision: r22 - 13 Nov 2022, af.83
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