Monday, March 25, 2019

Diversity of Color in Louisiana Irises - White irises

by Ron Killingsworth

"The name Iris is derived from a Greek word meaning "rainbow" and is a fitting name for this beautiful family of flowers." (The Louisiana Iris - The History and Culture of Five Native American Species and their Hybrids, an official publication of the Society for Louisiana Irises.)

The pigments of the iris petals create the brilliant colors of irises.  There are many articles and books written on this subject, so feel free to "google" it and learn as much as you desire.  Our discussion today is simply about the wide range of colors to be found in this group of irises.

The color range of Louisiana irises had been greatly expanded by more than 75 years of hybridizing.

This time we will look at the wide variety of shapes and sizes in white Louisiana irises.  White irises must have good substance in order to withstand "washing out" in the hot Louisiana sun.  There are still quite a few white Louisiana irises to be found in the native habitat, especially in south Louisiana, and most likely in the species i.giganticaerulea.

In other postings we discussed other flower colors to be found in Louisiana irises.  Today we look at some of the white Louisiana irises.  Again, different people see color in different ways so you may not find all these irises to be what you consider as "white". Without further discussion, let us jump right into examining some fine examples of white Louisiana irises.
'Acadian Miss' by Charles Arny, 1980.
This is one of the first Louisiana irises to exhibit some ruffling on the edges.  The very first iris to show ruffling was 'Charlie's Michele' (Arny 1969) which was a rose colored iris.  'Charlie's Michele' was the pod parent of 'Clara Goula' (Arny 1975) and the ruffling is quite nice on 'Clara Goula'.  'Clara Goula' was the pollen parent for 'Acadian Miss' and passed some of the ruffling on toe this iris. It is distinguished for other white irises by the ruffling and the bold green style arms.

'Circe Miss' by M. D. Faith 2005
'Circe Miss' resembles 'Acadian Miss' but there is a difference in the two irises.  This one does not have as much ruffling and the signals are somewhat different.

'Clara Goula'
This is not a great picture of 'Clara Goula' and again you can see the resemblance of the progeny.

'Cotton Plantation' by Mary Dunn 1994
This is an example of a bloom that has recently opened.  Below is an example of blooms that are a few days old and you can see how the petals re-curve somewhat in the picture below.

'Cotton Plantation'
If you have even been in a cotton field just before picking time, the cotton bolls do resemble this iris.

'Danza' by J. C. Taylor 1986
This iris tends to be more "light yellow" when first opened but fades to a pleasing white that can stand up to hot weather.

'Dural White Butterfly' by J. C. Taylor 1989
This is one of the "famous" white irises and it has been used in many hybridizing attempts/successes.  It is registered as "White self", no further description.  Again you can see the characteristics of the parents back to 'Charlie's Michele'.

'Her Highness' by Levingston 1957
This is a collected i.giganticaerulea alba and is one of my favorite white irises in the old open form.  We have a huge patch of this iris and it puts on quite a show every year.  It won the Mary Swords DeBallion Award in 1959, the highest award most Louisiana irises will ever win.

'Ice Angel' by A. Faggard 1988
Registered as "white, diamond dusted icy blue" and a great description of this iris, another of my favorites.  When it first opens, the area near the style arms dust in fact have a dusted icy look.  The pinkish blush also sets it apart for other white irises.

'Ice Magic' by J. C. Taylor 1991
A lot of Taylor's white irises have 'Helen Naish' (J. C. Taylor 1979) as one of the parents (pollen parent in this case).  'Helen Naish' has 'Clara Goula' as the pod parent.

'Inez Conger' (Charles Arny, 1973)
The real Inez Conger lived in Arcadia, LA, and raised many irises back in the 1950-70 time frame.  Her son, Sidney Conger, hybridized many Louisiana irises.  This one is registered as "white self, large orange signal" as if you paid the registration fee based on the number of words in the description!

'Lime and Soda' by Peter Jackson 2010
It is registered as "stands and falls soft lemon".  Perhaps this is a picture of a bloom a few days old and has faded to a pleasing white with a yellow blush.  I bet you could trace the parentage back to one of the famous white irises.

'Longue Vue' by Dorman Haymon 1999
Dorman named this iris for Longue Vue Home and Gardens in New Orleans.  It has 'Dural White Butterfly' for the pollen parent.  This is one of the most well know white Louisiana irises.

'Longue Vue'
Another nice picture of 'Longue Vue'.

'Marie Dolores' by Dorman Haymon 1986
Another fine example of a white Louisiana iris, this one with cream colored style arms and nice signals.  The registration says it has "pronounced sweet fragrance" but I have seldom found a Louisiana iris with fragrance.  I must check it out next year if I can simply remember to do so!

'Miranda Leigh' by Rusty Ostheimer McSparrin 2001
A very nice white iris that won the Caillet Cup in 2009.  It grows pretty short for me but really puts on a show during bloom season.

'Monument' by Mary Dunn 1977
The pod parent is 'Charlie's Michele' and the pollen parent is 'Ila Nunn' (Arny 1967), a pretty light yellow, registered as white, which I assume pleasingly fades to white.

'Starlite Starbrite' by Marvin Granger 1985
No, I did not misspell the name.  Marvin hybridized quite a few of the "cartwheel" form and this is by far one of my favorites.  It will win you a nice ribbon on the show table. It has all falls and no stands.

"Sylvarena' by Jeff Weeks 2010
A very nice iris that will catch you eye during bloom season.  It has 'Exquisite Lady' (A. Owen, 1986) as the pod and pollen parents.  'Exquisite Lady' has a silver rim (halo) on the stands and falls but I see that did not get passed to the progeny.

'Texas Toast' by Joe Mertzweiller, registered by Marie Caillet in 2005 after Joe's death.  It is a tetraploid registered as "cream" but fading to white.

To learn more about Louisiana irises, visit their website here. 
To learn more about all irises, visit the American Iris Society

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