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■(SPEC) Iris susiana L.

1753, Botanical author Linneaus

Iris susiana L.* ( Carolus Linnaeus, 1753); Section Oncocyclus; Color Code S1M (Medium Blue Shot, Self). Linnaeus in Species Plantarum ed. 1: 38. 1753;

See below:

Iris susiana.jpgsusiana01.jpgsusiana02.JPGsusiana03.jpgsusiana04.jpgsusiana05.JPGsusiana1.jpgsusiana1JB17.JPGsusiana2.jpgsusiana2JB17.JPGsusiana3.jpgsusiana3JB17.JPGsusiana4.JPGsusiana4JB17.JPGsusiana4JB17bh.jpgsusiana5JB17.JPGsusiana bot mag 91reduced edited-1.jpgSusiana Monatsschrift 1881.jpg


From Walter Marx Gardens catalog 1955: SUSIANA (Oncocyclus) Each 2.50. The grayish black Mourning Iris and the only oncocyclus species worth attempting to grow for the average gardener. Reports indicate that it has been successfully cultivated and even increased in some sections of the country. The Mourning Iris is an immense globular flower strangely beautiful though somber. Ground color is silvery gray completely dotted and veined blackish purple. Large black signal patch. Most striking as a cut flower and used for this purpose by florists in metropolitan Europe.
Linneaus, in Species Plantarum "Edit. 1, page 38, 1753
Catalog Records
Curtis's Botanical Magazine 3: tab. 91. 1790, ; displayed at right. (Note the coloring of the illustration is more brown than what we know as susiana today.)
Redoute's Les Liliaceae
Monatsschrift des Vereines zur Beförderung des Gartenbaues in den Königl. Preussischen Staaten und der Gesellschaft der Gartenfreunde Berlins, vol. 24: t. 10 (1881)
Eeden, A.C. van, Album van Eeden, Haarlem’s flora, afbeeldingen in kleurendruk van verschillende bol- en knolgewassen, p. 39, t. 52 (1872-1881)
Foster in The Garden, February 18, 1893 offers the following; "This is so well known that I need say little about it. Its distinguishing features may be briefly summed up thus: The root is compact, the leaves are relatively large, sometimes a foot or even more in height, and nearly an inch in breadth, distinctly yellowish green. The flower is relatively very large; the falls are rather longer than broad; the styles are bent down so as to be nearly horizontal, and the prevailing color, a dark grey, is produced by numerous veins and dots of a dark almost black-brown with a slight tinge of purple on a creamy white ground, which aquires a brownish hue owing to the difussion of color from the margins of the veins and dots. The hairs of the fall are black. As the flower withers the purple constiuent of the color becomes very prominent."
Dickson 1794; Krel. 1815; Bull 1873; Van T. 1900; 1938; Van W. 1906; Dean 1916; Wayman 1928;
Dykes in The Genus Iris 1913;

" Description.
Rootstock , a stout compact rhizome, with a reddish skin. Cultivated plants do not produce stolons but these might arise in poor soil.
Leaves , 12 in. or more in length by 3/4-1 in. broad, of a distinctly yellowish green.
Stem , 12-15 in. long, sheathed in 2-3 reduced leaves.
Spathes, I-flowered, valves 3-4½ in. long, green or slightly flushed with purple.
Pedicel , very short.
Ovary , much rounded trigonal, with a slight groove on each face, passing into the tube without any marked constriction, 1 in. long.
Tube , 1-1½ in., green, striped and mottled with purple in the upper part.
Falls . The broad wedge-shaped haft expands gradually into the ovate blade and bears a very broad diffuse beard of brown-black hairs. Beyond this on the blade is a deep purple black velvety signal patch. The rest of the surface is of a dark grey colour, produced by numerous veins and dots of a dark black purple on a grey-white ground.
Standards . Orbicular with a short haft, which bears on its inner side a number of scattered black hairs. The colour resembles that of the falls but the lines and dots are not so thick and the whole effect is therefore lighter.
Styles , horizontal, sharply keeled, of a deep red-black colour.
Crests , broad and low, sharply reflexed.
Stigma , entire.
Filaments , creamy, about half as long as the anthers.
Anthers , creamy, very large, 1 in. long.
Pollen , creamy.
Capsule , 2-4 in. long, ellipsoid, tapering at either end, dehiscing below the apex.
Seeds , globose or pyriform, dark red-brown with a conspicuous creamy aril (cf. Plate XLVIII, Fig. 8).


This Iris has been in cultivation in Europe for more than three centuries, for it was brought from Constantinople to Vienna in 1573, and a very fair picture of it was published by Clusius in 1601 (cf. Clusius, Rar. Plant. Hist., pp. 217, 218 (1601)). It was moreover the first Iris to be described by Linnaeus in his list of the species.

I. susiana can hardly be described as beautiful, though its flowers are undoubtedly striking. Owing to the fact that this Iris has long been cultivated in the South of France, it has become more nearly acclimatised to the conditions of existence in English gardens than any other Oncocyclus species. Instances are not unknown where plants have spread into large clumps and flowered well year after year. The best conditions would probably include heavy limestone soil and certainly a warm and sunny position, where the soil was usually rather dry. These conditions might possibly be obtained in the requisite soil under a conifer, whose branches overhung the Irises and yet did not allow water to drip upon them to any extent nor shade them from the sun.
Yr. Bk., I.S.(E.) 44. 1933;
Hocker 1937; Barr 1938; Waterer 1938; Stewart 1939; Van Z. 1939;
2n=20, Awishai & Zohary 1980.


Though the date 1753 goes with the description and the name susiana for this iris; it was known in cultivation long before, as it was purchased by Tradescant for Hatfield House garden under the name of Susyand in 1611; syn. Mourning Iris; Iris de suses; Iris grandiflora, Salisb.; Oncocyclus susianus K. Koch; Iris punctata Moench; Susyand.

Original form possibly extinct; forms in commerce possibly Iris sofarana or Iris basaltica . See Iris sofarana . Although Iris susiana may have been a distinct species, wild populations have disappeared, and cultivated forms appear to be forms of Iris sofarana .


Iris susiana no varieties known.


Iris susiana crosses: 'Another Day' [Sic], 'Arethusa', 'Baucis', 'Beatrix', 'Bed Time' [Sic], 'Brillig', 'Cassandra', 'Charcoal Grey', 'Cherokee Maid', 'Clara'?, 'Cocoa Cream', 'Cogette', 'Cyrene', 'Dott. Attilio Ragionieri', 'Due West' [Sic], 'Early Mass' [Sic], 'Enticing', 'Fair Enough', 'Freya', 'Gan Eden', 'Gene's Little Secret', 'Goldina', 'Governor', 'Gravure', 'Helena', 'Henri Denis', 'Honor Bright' [Sic], 'Ida', 'Flora', 'Jai Alai', 'Judean Raven', 'Kerr's Light Blue', 'Kerr's Wide Falls', 'Lassen Peak', 'Leo Tee', 'Luna', 'Ma Su Chen', 'Maud Tribolet', 'Mendocino', 'New Enchantment', 'Paris', 'Persian Damask', 'Persian Dusk', 'Persian Royalty', 'Rojo Grande', 'Sharis', 'Sharksiana', 'Sierra Fawn', 'Somebody' [Sic], 'Susimac', 'Tehama', 'Terpsichore', 'Thalia', 'Twice Nice', 'Van Houteii'?, 'Zwanenburg'.

¼ Iris Susiana Crosses: 'Aril Arrow', 'Bagdad Gem', 'Bayberry Baby', 'Bright Prospects', 'Brown Etching', 'Brownie', 'Brown Valley', 'Buffoon', 'Butterscotch Baby', 'Califa Dotu', 'Fourteen For Rachel', 'Green Glory', 'Impudent Elf'?, 'Invisible Hands', 'Judean Rouge', 'King Of Kashmir', 'Lasting Legacy', 'Lemon Frost', 'Mohresque', 'Mt. Kosciusko', 'Mulberry Torch', 'Mumbo Jumbo', 'Nain', 'Nomad's Turban', 'Pride Of Haifa', 'Princess Maya', 'Promise Of Love'?, 'Purple Parrot', 'Quote Me', 'Sal-Leo-Five', 'Sanhedrin', 'Song Of Solomon', 'Spiced Wine', 'Sultry Eyes', 'Sunspun', 'Tirzah', 'Toah', 'Wee Admiral', 'Werckmeister's Beauty'.

Distribution and Cultivation

Distribution: Region:
Cultivation: Full sun, .

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-- Main.RPries - 2010-04-19
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Iris_susiana.jpgjpg Iris_susiana.jpg manage 50 K 12 Dec 2014 - 18:46 BobPries Courtesy of the biodiversity heritage library
Susiana_Monatsschrift_1881.jpgjpg Susiana_Monatsschrift_1881.jpg manage 141 K 24 Oct 2016 - 14:00 BobPries Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library
susiana01.jpgjpg susiana01.jpg manage 81 K 17 Dec 2015 - 13:25 UnknownUser Photo scanned from the Leo T. Clark slide collection
susiana02.JPGJPG susiana02.JPG manage 106 K 30 Jun 2014 - 16:30 UnknownUser Photo scanned from the Bee Warburton slide collection
susiana03.jpgjpg susiana03.jpg manage 122 K 17 Dec 2015 - 13:27 UnknownUser Photo from the Leo T. Clark slide collection
susiana04.jpgjpg susiana04.jpg manage 109 K 17 Dec 2015 - 13:29 UnknownUser Photo scanned from the Leo T. Clark slide collection
susiana05.JPGJPG susiana05.JPG manage 721 K 11 Oct 2017 - 16:13 UnknownUser Photo scanned from the Verna Laurin slide collection
susiana1.jpgjpg susiana1.jpg manage 105 K 27 Dec 2015 - 17:19 UnknownUser Photo scanned from the Herbert Kerr slide collection
susiana1JB17.JPGJPG susiana1JB17.JPG manage 142 K 15 Apr 2017 - 13:02 Main.Betsy881 Photo by John Baumfalk
susiana2.jpgjpg susiana2.jpg manage 85 K 27 Dec 2015 - 17:22 UnknownUser Photo scanned from the Herbert Kerr slide collection
susiana2JB17.JPGJPG susiana2JB17.JPG manage 109 K 15 Apr 2017 - 13:04 Main.Betsy881 Photo by John Baumfalk
susiana3.jpgjpg susiana3.jpg manage 97 K 27 Dec 2015 - 17:24 UnknownUser Photo scanned from the Herbert Kerr slide collection
susiana3JB17.JPGJPG susiana3JB17.JPG manage 111 K 15 Apr 2017 - 13:29 Main.Betsy881 Photo by John Baumfalk
susiana4.JPGJPG susiana4.JPG manage 851 K 12 Apr 2017 - 16:25 UnknownUser Photo scanned from the Glenn Corlew slide collection
susiana4JB17.JPGJPG susiana4JB17.JPG manage 113 K 15 Apr 2017 - 13:10 Main.Betsy881 Photo by John Baumfalk
susiana4JB17bh.jpgjpg susiana4JB17bh.jpg manage 60 K 15 Apr 2017 - 13:10 Main.Betsy881 Photo by John Baumfalk
susiana5JB17.JPGJPG susiana5JB17.JPG manage 123 K 16 Apr 2017 - 15:05 Main.Betsy881 Photo by John Baumfalk
susiana_bot_mag_91reduced_edited-1.jpgjpg susiana_bot_mag_91reduced_edited-1.jpg manage 86 K 13 Oct 2011 - 11:17 UnknownUser Table 91 From Botanical Magazine
Topic revision: r29 - 25 Mar 2022, TLaurin
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