Monday, October 14, 2013

Pacific Coast Iris Seedling

Scattered along the west coast of the United States are eleven species of irises, probably derived from the ancestor of the 40 chromosome Sibericans, and able to breed both with their cousins across the Bering Strait, and with each other.

Wherever these Pacific Coast Natives Irises meet they form hybrid swarms, some of which have been given species names in the past.   As is the way with gardeners, growers soon saw that there was a wide genetic variety within these species and began planned crosses.  New Zealand’s own Jean Stevens was among the first to start planned crossing, looking for better colour and form.

In the past thirty years these irises have changed considerably, with an expanded colour range, bigger flowers, some ruffling as well, alot under the influence of Joe Ghio, better known as a breeder of bearded irises.

These plants do not grow well in areas with cold winters – in fact they hardly grow there at all – but in milder regions they offer tremendous potential, flowering early in the tall bearded season, and breeders have been hard at work in California, Washington and Oregon in the United States, and in other temperate areas of the world.

They grow especially well in New Zealand and a number of enthusiasts have been crossing among seed originally sourced from the Society for Pacific Coast Native Irises.  The editor of the SPCNI lives in a neighbouring town and I recently had a look through his seedlings and was taken with this burnt sienna hybrid with vivid purple markings. 

As usual, clicking the above image will take you to the larger, higher resolution version.
Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter.


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