Monday, January 2, 2017

Colors, Patterns of Japanese Iris

by Chad Harris


Japanese iris, Iris ensata besides the varied flower forms has some of the most diverse patterns that blend colors in the iris world.  This being said when there are only three colors at this time available to Iris ensata.  White or Alba, Red-violet, and Blue-violet, however these violet colors come in a full range of pale pastels to dark almost black in tone.

‘Flamingo Waltz’

Self Pattern: a solid mono color without any visible markings or other patterns. The color of ‘Flamingo Waltz’ and other so called pinks are just a pastel red-violet. If you would hold a pink rose next to this bloom your eye will see that the color is actually lilac.


Halo Pattern: most times easier to see on the flower than to photograph, not very common however when present can be very striking. It is the dark coloring found surrounding the Signal, the bright yellow spot found on all Japanese iris, Iris ensata.


Rimmed Pattern: a flower with a sharp linear line around the petals. This can be a colored rim such as ‘Yuzen’ shown here, or it can be a rim of a lighter coloring than the color of the petals.

‘Sunrise Ridge’

Banded Pattern: similar to the rim only wider with the coloring on the flower petal.

‘Blushing Snowmaiden’

Brushed or Washed Pattern: looks as if the color was lightly brush painted on.

‘Pleasant Sandman’

Sanded Pattern: are very fine dots of color similar to looking at the funnies in the paper with a magnifying glass.

‘Freckled Peacock’

Freckled Pattern: If a flower has large random dots of color is said to be freckled.

‘Dragon Tapestry’

Broken or Splashed Pattern: random streaking of color (well known in Camellias that were also bred in Asia) with no two flowers looking alike.
‘Caprican Butterfly’
Veined Pattern: where the veins are darker than the background color of the fall, this is a public favorite.
‘Koto Harp Strings’
Rayed Pattern: one of my personal favorites, when the veins are lighter in color than the color of the flower petal.
‘Celestial Emperor’
Many of these patterns can be present on a single flower at the same time, with the colors that are available, the combinations can seem endless for the garden. Here ‘Celestial Emperor’ is showing a Halo, Washed, Banded, Rimmed, and the Veined Pattern all together with many shades of red-violet and blue-violet that can be found in the Japanese iris, Iris ensata flower.
A more detailed look to the different flower forms, colors, and blooming habits will be presented by Chad Harris at the Society for Japanese Iris Section Program in Des Moines, Iowa at the American Iris Society National Convention May 22-27, 2017 titled “Old There, New Here” a look at historic Japanese irises. For more information about the National, click here to go to the website.

Editor's Note: Most of this blog first appeared on Chad Harris's garden site: Mt. Pleasant Iris Farm. While specializing in water land irises of Asia, there is a good listing of other types of irises too.

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