Monday, July 7, 2008

Louisiana Irises Join the Dots

Botanical Print featu
re on the left I.fulva From Dykes Monograph 'The Genus Iris' Published 1913 by Cambridge University Press

Recently doing rese
arch on Historic New Zealand Irises, the following from 'The New Zealand Gardener', Letter's from Readers, October 1949, caught my eye.

I Have been reading that Australian iris fans are becoming enthusiastic about a new race of irises known as the Louisiana's. I have some irises in my garden,claimed to be Louisiana's which I obtained some 12 years ago. Do you know if they were offered in New Zealand at that time, or are they wrongly named?- "Curious,"Lower Hutt.
[ It is quite true that the Australians have suddenly become enthusiastic about the irises from Louisiana. Some fifteen species were intro
duced to New Zealand by the editor of this Journal in 1932, who received seed from the late J.K. Small,one of the plant explorer's who discovered them. They were offered for sale for a year or two by one iris specialist, but for some reason were later dropped.The writer finds they flower profusely with him in October, the aspect being semi-shade,the soil moist and acid] Editor 1949 J.W.Matthews.The second part of the puzzle is the 1934 entry in Jean Burgess (Stevens) Stud Book which is copied below. I am not a great fan of Louisiana Iris and as there was no further mention of the LA blooming in later notes of Jean's, I never paid the entries too much attention . I do not consider that the two separate subject matters are inter-related because of the importation of seed from the same supplier, and I can not find any confirmation that A. H.Burgess and Son was the Iris specialist referred to in the above, but what it does show is seed from the same source, J.K. Small, was sent to New Zealand, reportedly grown and plant progeny from these lines were sold in the 1930's.

Seed seems to be the way Louisiana Irises were introduced to New Zealand in the period 1930-1950. NZ's most famous Louisiana FRANCE
S ELIZABETH was "A New Zealand introduction although the seed which produced it came originally from a controlled pollination in the United States"('Frances Elizabeth' Information source, S. E. Rix Notes)



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