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■ (SPEC) Iris sambucina L. or see also TB 'Sambucina'

1759, Botanical author Linneaus

'Sambucina'. ( Carolus Linnaeus.-1759); TB; Midseason bloom. Color Code-S9M; "Very near Iris squalens, from which it differs by its less robust habit, narrower perianth-segments, falls colored and veined with claret-, not lilac-purple, conspicuously emarginate standards and a more decided elder-like scent."-Handbook of the Irideae by J. P. Baker, p. 86,1892; Elder fragrance. [probably a hybrid of Iris variegata L. and Iris pallida Lam.].

See below:
Iris sambucina from bot mag.jpgSambucina.JPGSambucina02.JPEGsambucina03.JPGsambucina04.JPGsambucina05.JPGsambucina1.JPGsambucina1.jpgSambucina redote 338cropped.jpg


Syst. Pl. ed. 10: 863. 1759
Curtis's Botanical Magazine 6: tab. 187, This species of Iris, said to be a native of the South of Europe, derives its name from the smell of its flowers, which very much refembles that of elder in bloom.

It is one of the tallest and handsomest: of the genus, in a rich moist soil acquiring the height of three feet or more ; It is therefore more proper for the shrubbery than the flower- garden. It flowers about the latter end of May, and is readily increased by parting its roots in autumn.

The Iris of Parkinson, referred to in the synonyms, accords fo exactly with our plant, in every circumstance but smell, which is not mentioned, that we have no doubt but it was cultivated in our gardens in his time.
Dykes in the Genus Iris 1913, Observations.[On sambucina & squalens] It seems impossible to give any satisfactory account of these two Irises. Their history is not at all clear and we may perhaps be permitted to infer that Linnaeus had some doubt as to their claim to specific rank from the fact that he did not include them in his first edition of the Species Plantarum. It is only in the tenth edition of the Systema (1759) that we find described on p. 863 an Iris no. 3 A under the name of I. sambucina and no. 3 B under that of I. squalens. They are only distinguished in one point, namely in the character of the falls (sambucina "petalis deflexis planis; squalens petals deflexis replicatis "). The meagre descriptions given were presumably felt to be inadequate, for in the second edition of the Species Plantarum (1762) on p. 55 they are amplified and made less vague.

We gather from this account that I. sambucina had violet or bluish flowers with bluish style branches, while in I. squalens the yellow-white veins on the bluish ground of the falls were more marked and the standards and style branches of a dingy yellow.

This description of I. sambucina agrees fairly well with the plate in Reichenbach's Icones cccxxxv fig. 762, which is also mentioned by Hausmann Flora von Tirol (l.c.) as representing a plant that grows near Bozen. This plant I have obtained and cultivated and if the identification is correct, then the description may be further amplified as follows. </br >
Leaves , with purple colouration at the base.
Stem , much branched, and many flowered, for even the lateral branches bear 3 flowers.
Spathes , 1½ in. long, largely but not wholly scarious.
Pedicel , none in the case of the two outer flowers in each spathe but ¼ in. long in the case of the centre flower, which is the last to bloom.
Ovary, ½ in. with six grooves at equal intervals.
Tube , ¾ in.
Falls , obovate-cuneate ; the blade much veined with deep bluish-purple on a grey-white ground; the veins coalesce towards the tip of the blade. On the haft the veins are rather brown-purple on a yellow-white ground. The beard is orange.
Standards , obovate with short canaliculate haft ; the blade of a dingy yellowish-purple and the haft veined with brown-purple on yellow.
Styles , dingy yellow with a sharp blue-purple keel.
Crests , large, broadly triangular, of the same mixed colour as the standards.
Stigma , entire.
Filaments , white, tinged with faint lavender. Anthers , small cream.
Pollen , cream.
Capsule and pollen not seen, because the plant appears to be usually sterile.

The plant just described is not that usually grown as I. sambucina and it sometimes appears under the name of I. lurida, e.g. in the Caen Botanic Garden, but it is probably the plant that was the subject of Linnaeus' description.

I. squalens is said in the original description to differ by having standards and styles of a squalid yellow colour. The falls are veined with yellow-white on a bluish ground. Such a form exists in gardens and so does also another in which the bluish ground is replaced by red-purple. The plant already described as I. sambucz'na is so similar to both of these except in colour, which in Irises is a character the reverse of reliable, that it is impossible to look upon them except as hybrid forms and we must acknowledge that further investigation and breeding experiments are necessary before the mystery of their origin can be cleared up.

[N.B. It is not quite clear whether the Bozen plants must be looked upon as really wild or as probable escapes from cultivation. With the specimens that I received came two other plants of much dwarfer growth. In one the standards are clear yellow and in the other of a murky yellow. In both the falls are veined with claret-red on a yellowish-white ground. These plants are quite different from what I take to be /. squalens, being much dwarfer and having a much less ample inflorescence. I understand that these plants now grow near Bozen with that described as I. sambucina.]

On the whole I am inclined to think that the two plants that Linnaeus described as I. sambucina and /. squalens were both hybrids of I. pallida and I. variegata. They are intermediate in many ways between these two species, e.g. in the spathes and in the colour, and the leaves die down in winter as do those of both the supposed parents. The fact that forms closely resembling I. sambucina and I. squalens have been obtained from crosses between I. plicata and I. variegata seems to support this view, for I. plicata is only apparently an example of I. pallida in which some factor is present that prevents the purple colour from appearing except at the edges of the segments. See also p. 234.
Listed by Dickson 1794
Red. Lilac. 6: tab. 338. 1811,
Listed by Prince 1923; Hend. 1877;
Gardeners' Chronicle vol 20, page 373, 1883 Iris variegata Hybrids with Pallida
Journal of The Royal Horticultural Society 15: 3. Oct. 1899
Listed by Farr 1912; Wing 1920; Vilm. 1938


Synonyms;* Adb-el-Kaker; Abel-Kaver; Cheron; Cherion; Gypsy Queen; Leopold; Leopoldine; Nemesis; President Lincoln; Virgil ----

Chromosome counts

2n=24 ----


'Dinar Mountains' ----


Oncocyclus crosses 'Paracina'; 'Parsam'
Tall-bearded Hybrids 'Cordon Bleu'; 'Laura Emerson Sturtevant'; 'Prospero'; 'Quaker' ----

Distribution and Cultivation

Distribution: Region:


Iris sambucina from bot mag.jpgSambucina.JPGSambucina02.JPEGsambucina03.JPGsambucina04.JPGsambucina05.JPGsambucina1.JPGsambucina1.jpgSambucina redote 338cropped.jpg

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-- Main.RPries - 2009-12-10
Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Iris_sambucina_from_bot_mag.jpgjpg Iris_sambucina_from_bot_mag.jpg manage 40 K 21 Sep 2010 - 11:46 UnknownUser  
Sambucina.JPGJPG Sambucina.JPG manage 73 K 30 Jan 2011 - 16:08 IrisP  
Sambucina02.JPEGJPEG Sambucina02.JPEG manage 13 K 10 May 2014 - 13:33 Main.TLaurin Photo courtesy of Mike Lowe from original HIPS website
Sambucina_redote_338cropped.jpgjpg Sambucina_redote_338cropped.jpg manage 96 K 27 Sep 2013 - 17:42 BobPries Biodiversity Heritage Library exRedoute
sambucina03.JPGJPG sambucina03.JPG manage 366 K 08 May 2019 - 11:24 Main.TLaurin Photo by Carol Lankow
sambucina04.JPGJPG sambucina04.JPG manage 370 K 29 Apr 2019 - 22:40 Main.TLaurin Photo by Carol Lankow
sambucina05.JPGJPG sambucina05.JPG manage 476 K 29 Apr 2019 - 22:41 Main.TLaurin Photo by Carol Lankow
sambucina1.JPGJPG sambucina1.JPG manage 859 K 06 Feb 2017 - 16:43 Main.TLaurin Photo by Glenn Corlew
sambucina1.jpgjpg sambucina1.jpg manage 251 K 06 Jun 2018 - 21:11 Main.TLaurin Photo by Sandy Gessner Eggertson-Merlebleu Iris Garden-Manitoba,Canada
Topic revision: r18 - 08 May 2019, TLaurin
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