Monday, October 15, 2018

New Iris Species ‘Azure Blue’

By Bryce Williamson

In the spring on my trip to Oregon and Washington for the joint Region 13/TBIS meeting, I had planned to spend the day after the meeting in Oregon at Mt. Pleasant Iris Farm, then at Aitken’s Salmon Creek, and then the evening with my niece and her family.

Sunday morning, I got on the road only to find the rental had a leaking tire; Thrifty did a quick exchange of vehicles at the Portland Airport and I arrived mid-morning at Mt. Pleasant. Seeing that Chad and Dale were both busy, I headed for the irises. Almost at once, Chad Harris came up and wanted me to go up the hill to the patio and to see a new iris species he had in bloom, especially since one flower was fading rapidly.


At this time the new species does not have a botanical name and goes by the garden name of ‘Azure Blue’. Chad had two specimens blooming in pots and there was enough difference between the two clones to see that they had been raised from seed. One of the most interesting things about this new species is the notches in the standards that locks the standards in place. Right now the goal is to obtain more seed so more growers can propagate the plant. Later down the line, the hope is studies will be done to see where it fits into the genus iris. The current thinking is that it is an unknown species of crested iris most likely related to I. milesii and I. tectorum; however, it has resisted setting seed with either one of these groups. The stalks had two flowers in the terminal and one flower in the side branch.





This new species was one of the highlights of my Oregon and Washington trip. It is not every day that we get to see a new species live and bloom.

The background of this iris is also interesting. It comes from the least populated states in India, Arunachal Pradesh, and borders Tibet, Myanmar, and Bhutan. The climates range from subtropical to alpine and even tundra.

Travel to the state is not easy, but in 2009 the plantsman Peter Boardman went on journey through the state. There he took pictures of an unknown iris. In 2014 a collecting trip was made, plant material collected, and then that material sat in the post office and customs and was destroyed. Until I made the trip this spring to Oregon, I was not aware that seeds had made it to the United States. We should consider this a developing botanical story with the next chapter yet to unfold.


8 comments:

  1. Awesome! This is so delicate, truly beautiful.

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  2. It is beautiful. What as surprise find!

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  3. I would like to publish your article in Region 6 newsletter.

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  4. That will be fine. Please credit the blog.

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  5. I want one! How soon until it's available to us?

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    1. I suspect it will be years before many plants are available for the home gardener. It did not seem to be growing rapidly.

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  6. What was the climate/general environment like in its native habitat? I'm assuming it wasn't subtropical if it will grow in Oregon and Washington!

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    1. I know it is humid and wet, but most likely not as cold in the winter as Oregon and Washington.

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