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■ (SPEC) Iris albicans Lange

1860, Botanical author Lange

Iris albicans Lange (Johan Martin Christian Lange, 1860). Section Iris , 16-20" (40-55 cm) Usually white flowered with a few olive green veins at haft, beard white tipped yellow becoming all yellow in throat. Evergreen foliage. Of all the tall-bearded Iris species that have been reported with white flowers this can be easily distinguished by its form of branching. This can be separated from the other three, Iris germanica, Iris florentina, and Iris kashmiriana, by its short branches and almost spur-like secondary branches. It is a very intriguing species in that we are still unsure of from where it originates. Although it is said to come from Yemen, it is so widely planted on moslem gravesites, it can be found throughout the Mediterranean region.

See below:


Images of I. albicans in Wild at INaturalistUK
Lange first described in Kjoeb. Vidensk. Meddel. (1860) 76.
Dykes in the Genus Iris 1913 Observations. If the explanation be correct that I have put forward (see p. 155) as to the origin of this Iris and as to the cause of its wide distribution, then it is one of the few cases in which the albino form of an Iris has been described and named before the coloured form. In spite of this it seems best to classify I. Madonna under the same heading as I. albicans in order to avoid the multiplication of specific names. I. albicans is fairly common in cultivation but often misnamed either I. florentina or I. germanica alba. Both the latter are, I have no doubt, albino forms of varieties of I. germanica and I. albicans can easily be distinguished from them by the following characteristics : (i} The inflorescence of I. albicans is much more compact and the branches much shorter. (Contrast Plate XXXV with Plate XXXVI and Fig. 21, p. 163.) (ii) The foliage is stiffer, broader and usually slightly twisted, when full grown.(iii) The absence of any hairs on the inner side of the base of the standards.(iv) The shape of the segments and especially of the falls, which in I. albicans appear pointed though they are not really so when flattened out. The variety Madonna is perhaps not yet quite acclimatised in England and still needs a warm sunny position to do well.


Yemen Iris

Chromosome number

44 chromosomes, indicate this is probably of an ancient hybrid origin, and may account for its limited fertility. The chromosome count of 44 has indicated that the species arose through a cross with a 40 chromosome species and a 48 chromosome species and different hypotheses have been given for its origin. Even though it seems to be of very limited fertility it is traditionally included as a separate species of ancient hybrid origin. 2n=44, Colasante & Sauer, 1993; 2n=44, Perez & Pasto, 1994.


Sports of purple flowered plants occur in natural populations and in the garden but the species is normally white flowered. 'Madonna' is a purple sport pictured with the normal white in Dykes' Genus Iris. The following cultivars have been recorded: 'Madonna', 'Prince Of Wales', 'Syracuse', 'Virginale'.


hybrid cultivars noted: 'Berenice', 'Galeata' and 'Wanganui Gem'.

Distribution and Cultivation

Distribution: Region:
Cultivation: seems to be the same as most bearded irises with perhaps a special emphasis on good drainage

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Your Observations Are Valued. Please make note of bud count, branching, purple based foliage and bloom time, etc. Because these are affected by climate, note date, year and geographic location and write these and other comments in the comment box below.


-- BobPries - 2009-12-01
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Albicans.JPGJPG Albicans.JPG manage 50 K 30 Jan 2011 - 11:55 IrisP  
Albicans01.JPGJPG Albicans01.JPG manage 64 K 15 Oct 2014 - 03:31 TerryLaurin Photo by Mary Hess-Bluebird Haven Iris Garden
Albicans02.JPGJPG Albicans02.JPG manage 120 K 10 Aug 2021 - 02:25 TerryLaurin Photo by Mary Hess-Bluebird Haven Iris Garden
I._Albicans_Canary__Island.JPGJPG I._Albicans_Canary__Island.JPG manage 74 K 25 Dec 2009 - 10:58 Main.tasquierloic Photo : Loïc TASQUIER - The Netherlands Zone 7
Irisalbicans.JPGJPG Irisalbicans.JPG manage 67 K 04 Jan 2017 - 03:59 TerryLaurin Photo by Christine Skelmersdale-Broadleigh Gardens-United Kingdom
albalicans1.JPGJPG albalicans1.JPG manage 480 K 22 May 2018 - 02:53 TerryLaurin Photo by Nancy McDonald-The Pickle Barrel Collection.
albalicans2.JPGJPG albalicans2.JPG manage 647 K 22 May 2018 - 02:55 TerryLaurin Photo by Nancy McDonald-The Pickle Barrel Collection.
albalicans3.JPGJPG albalicans3.JPG manage 611 K 22 May 2018 - 02:57 TerryLaurin Photo by Nancy McDonald-The Pickle Barrel Collection.
albalicans4.JPGJPG albalicans4.JPG manage 679 K 22 May 2018 - 02:59 TerryLaurin Photo by Nancy McDonald-The Pickle Barrel Collection.
albicans-2.jpgjpg albicans-2.jpg manage 54 K 01 Jun 2012 - 01:16 Main.bobgutowski  
albicans02.jpgjpg albicans02.jpg manage 52 K 03 Jun 2015 - 02:54 TerryLaurin Photo by Ross Eagles-Diversity Acres
albicans04.jpgjpg albicans04.jpg manage 87 K 09 Apr 2018 - 15:05 TerryLaurin Photo by Janet Smith
albicans05.jpgjpg albicans05.jpg manage 110 K 09 Apr 2018 - 15:03 TerryLaurin Photo by Janet Smith
albicans5.JPGJPG albicans5.JPG manage 115 K 11 Feb 2024 - 02:53 TerryLaurin Photo by Seagate Nurseries-Long Sutton Bypass-Long Sutton-United Kingdom
albicans7.JPGJPG albicans7.JPG manage 73 K 07 Apr 2024 - 02:21 TerryLaurin Photo by Tammy Skahan-Ozark Iris Gardens
ialbicans01.jpgjpg ialbicans01.jpg manage 38 K 21 Aug 2014 - 01:37 TerryLaurin Photo by Iris City Gardens
ialbicans1-jb.jpgjpg ialbicans1-jb.jpg manage 52 K 19 Feb 2013 - 19:00 Main.Harloiris photo by Mike Unser
ialbicans2-jb.jpgjpg ialbicans2-jb.jpg manage 59 K 19 Feb 2013 - 19:01 Main.Harloiris photo by Mike Unser
madonna-albicans.jpgjpg madonna-albicans.jpg manage 10 K 01 Dec 2009 - 15:52 BobPries Plate from Dykes Genus Iris
Topic revision: r36 - 30 May 2024, BobPries
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