By Griff CrumpOver the years, in observing seedlings, I gradually began to suspect that color in irises, and, particularly, the intensity of color, is not due entirely to pigment, but is also affected by the texture of the flower’s petals. If I were trained in the physical sciences, which I am not, I might have come to such a conclusion sooner. A recent article in the Smithsonian magazine, entitled “Why Are Some Feathers Blue?” tends to confirm my suspicion:
|Getty Images / Minden Pictures RM|
Blue, in irises, is produced by the presence of anthocyanin, a pigment, not air pockets. But the article shows that the interplay of light and structure affects the eye’s perception of color. It’s been my thinking that the way we perceive certain aspects of the coloration of irises, such as shading and intensity, is also affected by that interplay.
In the case of the seedlings that I have observed over the years, it happens that, in most cases, the color is red. The first seedling that caught my interest in this regard was 985R4, a bee cross on 953P (Holy Night X 93RR2 (Margarita x Momauguin)).
Whatever is causing that effect, it was transmitted to 985R4's progeny, 062X27 (985R4 X Cherry Glen), but to a lesser degree. And, in 062X27, we also see what we call “diamond dust” pr sparkles on the petals.
‘Prince Igor’, whose too-lengthy-for-here pedigree is unrelated to 985R4 (as far as we know – but what may 985R4's bee know?), also has a sheen.
|'Prince Igor' Crump, 2009.|
Switching, now, to blues and blue/blacks, I find the sheen in 072O1 (Stealth Fighter X Ranks of Blue)
and, to a lesser extent, in its sibling 072O22, which also displays “diamond dust”.
Another 'Stealth Fighter' derivative, 09S12 (Stealth Fighter X Holy Cow), shows pronounced sheen, top and bottom, in a very ruffled flower.
|'That Certain Something' Crump, 2008|
As with 985R4 and 'Stealth Fighter', above, ‘That Certain Something’ also imparts its softer tone to its progeny, as in the case of seedling 042F3.
So something may be going on in the way that we perceive color in irises. I suspect something similar is at work with irises which appear to change color during the day. If I’m correct, a reader with a greater degree of scientific knowledge may say, “Well, anybody who didn’t flunk physics should know that!” But I’m willing to suffer the slings and arrows in order to broach the discussion, because, when we know how something works, we can begin to manipulate it.
Does anyone else see it this way?