|'Brash and Bold' (Black, 2009)|
All arilbreds have in their ancestry both bearded irises and the exotic aril irises from the mountains and deserts of southwestern Asia. Because tall bearded irises have long been the most popular and extensively bred of the bearded types, it was mostly tall bearded irises that were used to produce arilbreds.
However, there have always been hybridizers of an adventurous bent who used dwarf or median bearded irises to produce arilbreds. Among the first irises from such breeding is 'Zwanenburg' introduced by French hybridizer Louis Denis in 1912. Its parentage is a matter of debate, but a dwarf bearded cultivar derived from Iris lutescens was one of the parents, and there is clearly aril ancestry as well. Remarkably, it is still being grown today! Its muted bronze and gray colors are not to everyone's liking, and the stalks and petals are rather flimsy, but it grows and blooms prolifically and has been delighting gardeners for over a century.
Since that time, crossing SDBs with fertile arilbreds has been the most common way to create arilbred medians. They vary a lot in height, but average around 18 inches high. These are only 1/4 aril, so often their aril characteristics are rather subtle. The best have obvious veining or a definite signal patch below the beard, and have a more globular flower form than do the intermediate bearded irises (IBs), which they otherwise resemble.
|'Octave' (Johnson, 2008)|
|'Enigmatic Elf' (Jensen, 2007)|
|'Suspect' (Johnson, 2006)|
|'Loudmouth' (Rich, 1970)|
|'Tiny Pirate' (Rich, 1990)|
|'Vera-Marina' (Ransom, 1998)|
Most arilbred medians are sterile, but there are a few fertile ones from unusual breeding approaches. 'Aladdin's Gem' (Thoolen, 2002) has only Iris pumila and pure arils in its ancestry - no TB heritage at all! Likewise, 'Anacrusis' (Mathes, 1992) is derived from pure arils and the dwarf bearded species Iris suaveolens. It has a number of worthy descendants, including the striking and popular 'Concerto Grosso' (Mathes, 1998), which won the C. G. White Medal in 2005.