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1996 World Iris Association

The 1996 discussion of the formation of a World Iris Association is reproduced below as presented on the First Iris Website created by Mike Lowe.


*Proposal To Establish A World Iris Association*

The genus iris consists of nearly 400 species that grow throughout the temporate zone of the northern hemisphere. Interest in the cultivation and breeding of this genus is world-wide and has lead to the idea of creating a World Iris Association. Such an Association would have as its objectives:-

  • to support the establishment and expansion of local, regional, and national iris societies
Research, Devolopment and Conservation
  • to encourage further research and study of the distribution and ecology of wild irises and related irids and the discovery of new species
  • to work aggressively with international and local bodies towards the protection of threatened and endangered species
  • to expand the number of wild irises grown in cultivation in order to protect the varied genetic stock of individual species that are at risk in their wild habitat, to enhance our understanding of the various species, and to provide genetic material for the breeding of new varieties in cultivation
Information Exchange
  • to develop opportunities for the exchange of accurate information about wild and cultivated irises through the development of websites, publications, the exchange of articles and information between publications, etc.
  • to maintain and distribute information on the diseases and pests of irises and control methods, including the harmful side effects to humans, plants and animals, of such control methods
  • to encourage international and regional meetings and workshops at which new information is diseminated and individuals are trained in various aspects of the science and culture of iris
Specimen Exchange
  • to encourage the exchange of seeds, specimens, and genetic material, etc. in order to enhance general understanding of the genus and its species and the development of new cultivars
Education and Public Awareness
  • to encourage the members and societies to promote public education and public awareness of irises in order to attract new members, particularly youth members, expand appreciation of this genus, and support the general conservation of the world's diminishing botanical biodiversity.


In order to establish a World Iris Association (WIA), it is proposed to create an organization with two types of membership. Firstly, National Iris Societies would appoint or elect a representative to serve on an Executive Committee or Board of Directors. Secondly, individual memberships would be accepted especially from countries that do not have a national iris society. From those countries that do not have a national society, representatives would be selected by the membership from that country.

After the Executive Committee has been formed, officers would be elected and a constitution adopted along with the necessary by-laws. From this base, committees could be formed to accomplish goals of the Association. As goals for the Association are defined and priorities established, each goal would require approval of a budget in order to attract financial support. At first, the Association's goals might be narrowly defined but, over time, expanded to meet the interest of its member societies and individual members.


This proposal has been prepared in order to generate discussion on the creation of a World Iris Assciation. Comments are welcome and should be sent to O. David Niswonger at The American Iris Society, 822 Rodney Vista Boulevard, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701, U.S.A. or e-mailed to: (the late Mike Lowe)

World Iris Association

Voice of an Outsider

by Lech Komarnicki, Warsaw, Poland

Much has been spoken about forming a World iris Association (WIA), and some minds seem so stirred up that I decided to add some questions to the discussion in the hope that someone would answer them.

The idea of uniting all the irisarians of the world sounds very attractive. It has some practical implications which may be of importance. However, there are problems which should be clarified.

1. Membership: If it would be a union of national societies, what about irisarians from the countries in which there is not a society? It would mean discrimination if they were to be left outside the new organization. Individual membership would need a big and multilingual membership office. Mixed membership would cause problems with the bylaws.

2. Membership Dues: Small societies from less developed countries or from the new democracies are too poor to pay equal subscription rates compared to the established societies. If the dues would depend on the number of members of each society, it would mean the AIS would take on its back nearly all the burden of WIA. The increase of membership dues of AIS would be imminent and would probably eliminate less prosperous members. In turn, individual subscriptions would make WIA a hazardous affair as only big membership would maintain such an organization. It should be remembered that while $10.00 may not mean much for some people, it may mean a lot of money for members from some of the new democracies and less developed countries.

3. Language of Communication: Obviously English. But what about other languages of the world-Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish? Certainly it would be more in the spirit of democracy to use them too. But can you imagine editing bulletins in all these languages? And the costs of translating and printing many editions? How many people would be needed for such work? So perhaps Esperanto as neutral would do? But who is able to read in Esperanto? So, back to English, which would mean the necessity of nominating an editor from the members of AIS and BIS only. Are these societies prepared for editing yet another bulletin?

4. Reading about "Headquarters": it is easy to imagine the need for an office, then possibly a building, some directors, secretaries, desks, telephones, computers. This would be apart from the costs of the meetings of the board at least once a year. And what about a general meeting?

5. Shadows of the past float over this idea: I remember the World Federation of Democratic Youth, World Federation of Trade Unions, etc. Now we are talking about the idea of a Central Iris Committee, central rules, central world awards, world popularity polls, world competitions, possible only in the USA. (In Australia the quarantine eliminates such a possibility.) To me this sounds a bit frightening.

6. How many iris society members are there in countries other than the United States? I would estimate the number would be less than two thousand, which would be about 25% of the AIS membership. Are we ready to undertake such an effort with such an imbalance of powers?

Please try to understand, I have nothing against the exchange of views, experiences, methods of operation, bulletins, etc. between the iris societies and individuals. On the contrary, I am enthusiastic about such contacts. But I am afraid of the weight of the new organization, once set in motion, may easily overwhelm an individual iris lover. An elephant may easily overlook an ant.

I am hopeful for some answers to lessen my doubts. Meanwhile, I would like to remind readers that an organization uniting all the leading hybridizers of the world as well as thousands of growers; an organization with many sections of special interests, editing an excellent bulletin four times a year, with a long tradition and knowledge of registering irises and how to promote them; an organization open for all irisarians from the most distant corners of the world, already exists. In fact, we already have the World Iris Organization. It is called The American Iris Society. Do we really need another one?

World Iris Association

A Russian Perspective

by Sergey Loktev, Russia

Return to ]     courtesy AIS

In the April, 1997 AIS Bulletin there was an article by Lech Komarnicki where he noted several potential problems to the concept of a World Iris Association. As a person favoring WIA, I offer my response.

The formation of the World Iris Association (WIA) deals with two basic questions:
  1. Will the creation of a WIA benefit iris culture and the world of irises?
  2. How do we solve the logistical challenges?
The concept of a WIA formation means countries and people converging for an united iris world in which individual and national identities are maintained. There are many precedents for this concept. The Olympics, the World Health Organization, United Nations, Interpol are a few. They are all avenues for international communication and cooperation for the mutual benefit of their participants.

In the iris world there are many questions of terminology, classification, culture, breeding and promotion of irises. Coordination of efforts on an international scale is the best way to achieve these results.

It is impossible to replace the WIA with one national society even though it [The American Iris Society] has the largest membership and the strongest financial base. Each society has geographically unique objectives. However, AIS already performs one international function-iris registrations.

I have no doubt the problems noted by Lech Komarnicki can be resolved; we should at least make a start.


I am opposed to individual membership in WIA as there would be duplication with national organizations' functions. International decisions need to be dealt with by national representation. Countries without a national organization should be encouraged to participate, and future membership is always a possibility. In the beginning there may only be a few participants.

I see the first step as contacting each national organization to see if there is interest. (AIS Bulletin Editor - AIS President Dave Niswonger has already done this.) For those who respond in the affirmative, an organizational meeting needs to take place to discuss formation. This information then needs to go back to the national organizations for their ratification. Once this step is achieved, then we can proceed to discuss other issues.

Membership Dues

This should be resolved at the organizational meeting. My suggestion would be organizations with less than 100 members should pay 10% of their dues; memberships with 101 - 1000 pay 5%; and over 1000 members should be 1%. With any version, WIA Bulletin copies sent to national societies should correspond to the sum of its dues. A newsletter would at least be a good start.

WIA Language of Communications

On the basis of percentage of participation, most likely English would be most practical. Dealing with translations would be each country's responsibility. It would be most practical for AIS or BIS to publish the WIA Bulletin, but other options can be considered.


Perhaps we don't need such a facility--AIS functions this way. The WIA Board of Directors could meet at different national conventions. International Iris Festivals can take place in conjunction with different national conventions.

WIA Activities

An International Symposium could happen right away. Iris promotion through international awards could include "World Champions". An unified method of judging and classifying would be necessary.

Perhaps the most important function of WIA for me is legislative efforts for terminology and classifications. I think it would be helpful for irisarians in all countries to follow standardized classifications. Whether individual countries follow these standards internally or not is their option.

Numbers of Members in National Societies

The bulk of WIA tasks may fall upon the larger organizations such as AIS and BIS, but others will participate where skills can be found. Getting started is the major challenge. The European Iris Association has already issued its first newsletter, and I hope to see a World Iris Association publication for the iris world as a whole.

*Historical Postscript*

- R. Pries

The Formation of the Middle European Iris Society solved some of the problems that called for the formation of the World Iris Society. The idea was soon abandoned. Today (2014) the Iris Encyclopedia is providing an archive of Iris information for the whole world. Because it is a wiki (a collaboration platform) it can record comments of irisarians worldwide. Hopefully it can satisfy much of the problems with worldwide information exchange. We will see how it continues to evolve.

-- BobPries - 2014-05-08
Topic revision: r2 - 18 Jan 2017, BobPries
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