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■ (SPEC) Iris danfordiae (Baker) Boissier

1882, botanical author Baker by way of Boissier

Iris danfordiae (Baker) Boissier. (Pierre Edmond Boissier, 1884, East Asia Minor); Subgenus Hermodactyloides . Fl. Or. 5: 124. 1882.

Iris danfordiae is produced in mass quantities by the Dutch bulb companies and all the bulbs available through traditional commerce are a single, sterile, triploid clone, 2n=27. Alan McMurtrie, the leading breeder of these Irises in North America, made a special trip to Turkey to gather seeds from the natural, fertile populations so that he could hybridize with this species.

See below:

danfordiae.jpgdanfordiae02.jpgdanfordiae1.jpgdanfordiae10.JPGdanfordiae11.JPGdanfordiae2.jpgDanfordiae Bot Mag 7140.jpgdanfordiae pries.jpgGartenflora Danfordiae t1327.jpgIris-danfordiaePlotner.jpgIris danfordiae KWW 1.JPGirisdanfordiae01.jpgirisdanfordiae010.jpgirisdanfordiae02.jpgIrisdanfordiaeFigge01.jpgIrisdanfordiaeFigge02.jpgIrisdanfordiaeFigge03.jpgIrisdanfordiaeFigge04.jpgIrisdanfordiaeFigge05.jpgIrisdanfordiaePBlack01.jpg

Additional Images in Turkey


Iris danfordiae (Baker) Boiss., Fl. Orient. 5: 124 (1882).
Krel. 1890;1913;
For more about Reticulata Irises see Alan McMurtrie's website
Curtis's Botanical Magazine, table 7140, 1890described as "Iris Danfordiae was discovered by the lady whose name it bears, on the Cilician Taurus, in the beginning of March, 1875, at an elevation of about four thousand feet, The exact spot was on the northern side of the Amascha Mountain, which is a continuation of the Ala Dagh range. In 1889 it was gathered in the same mountains by Herr Bornmueller, Inspector of the Belgrade Botanical Gardens, and dedicated in the same year by Haussknecht, to that traveller, with the observation that I. Danfordiae differs from it in the thin texture of the tunic of its bulb, a distinction that the specimens do not confirm. The specimen figured was grown from roots sent by Herr Max Leichtlin in 1889, and flowered in a cool frame in the Royal Gardens in February of this year. Flowers have also been communicated by Mr. Gumbleton, and leaves by Baron von St. Paul, of Fischbach, in Silesia. It is very fragrant.

Descr. Dwarf. Root narrowly ovoid, about an inch long, clothed with a subcylindric tunic one to one and a half inch long, of pale brown interlaced fibres, that reach the same height, and form a truncate mouth to the tunic; roots fibrous. Flowering stem two to four inches high, closely invested with many obtuse or subacute imbricating pale sheaths. Leaves produced after flowering, twice as long as the flowering stem, narrowly linear, hollow, four-angled, with thickened angles, tip suddenly contracted into an oblique cusp. Scape very short. Spathes two, linear, membranous, one-flowered ; pedicel about as long as the cylindric ovary. Perianth about an inch and a half in diameter; tube an inch and a half long; outer segments oblong-spathulate, obtuse or acute, orange-yellow, with a few brown or greenish spots ; upper third reflexed; disk with an obscure beard or none ; inner segments minute, with subulate tips that project between the base of the outer. Style as long as the perianth, golden yellow, bifid; lobes semi-ovate, acute. Stamens with linear yellow anthers, which are larger than the filaments.– J. D. Hooker;
Gartenflora 39: 401. tab. 1327. 1890, illustrated in color;
Iris Danfordiae as I. Bornmuelleri in The Garden p. 462-64, 1890
Van T. 1900; Van W. 1906; Wal. 1913; Stewart 1939;
F.C.C., Amsterdam 1891.
Dykes in The Genus Iris, 1913:

*Rootstock* , a slender, ovate bulb, with whitish netted coats.
Leaves, about 2 to each bulb, very short at flowering time, eventually 9-12 in. long, 4-sided, bluish green, with a white, horny point.
*Stem* , very short, 1-headed.
Spathe valves , 1-flowered, pointed, clasping the tube, not inflated, pale green, by reason of the green veining on a nearly colourless ground.
*Pedicel* , ¼ in. at flowering time, eventually becoming 1-2 in. long.
Ovary , ¼ in. long, cylindrical.
*Tube* , 1½-3 in. long, yellow, with 6 shallow grooves.
*Falls*. The narrow haft expands somewhat suddenly into the ovate-lanceolate blade. The haft is veined and dotted with olive green, and similar markings usually occur on the blade round the end of the conspicuous orange median ridge ; this ridge is continued along the haft, where it bears scattered spots of green and a number of microscopic hair-like processes, each with as many as 6-9 swollen nodes.
Standards , minute, erect, yellow spines, less than ¼ in. long, often lying close along the falls or styles, and difficult to distinguish.
*Styles* , short, not much more than half an inch long, triangular, usually, but not always, blotched with green or olive brown.
Crests , comparatively large, quadrate, with a serrated outer edge.
Stigma , bilobed.
Filaments , nearly equal in length to the anthers, whitish.
Anthers , cream coloured.
Pollen , pale cream coloured, of the characteristic reticulata shape, the two segments being equal in size, and of a much rounded oval outline.
Capsule , ½-1¼ in. long, broad below and tapering to a point above, rounded trigonal, with thin papery walls that bulge outwards (cf. Fig. 30).

Considerable confusion arose with regard to this Iris, owing to the fact that Baker's original description was founded on imperfect dried material. The bulbs had lost their outer reticulated coats and the inner skin appeared to be merely membranous, thus resembling the bulb of a small Juno Iris, such as I. persica, but in reality agreeing with those of the other members of the Reticulata group, in which the inner skin is much less distinctly veined than are the outer coats. This fact and the minuteness of the standards led Baker to class it at first by itself, and afterwards (Handb. lrid. p. 44) in the Juno group. Accordingly, when some years later Bornmtiller discovered more specimens near Amasia and Egin, Haussknecht founded on them a new species, Bornmulleri, which differed from Baker's description in having reticulate and not membranous coats. However, Foster was able to obtain through Max Leichtlin some of the bulbs collected by Bornmtiller, and to compare with them when they flowered a dried specimen supplied by Mrs Danford herself. He then had no doubt as to the identity of the two plants (Foster, Bulbous Ir. p. 12, 1892).

This species is one of the smallest, but especially valuable for its bright colour and early flowering habit. It is usually in flower in January and February, and increases rapidly by offsets. Six or eight of these or even more form at the base of each bulb of flowering size, and it is obvious that the struggle for existence among them will be so keen that some will succumb, unless they are given space in which to find nutriment and room to develop. It is therefore best to lift the bulbs every year, and to replant them two or three inches apart. This operation should be carried out soon after the leaves have withered, and if the bulbs have to be kept out of the ground for any length of time, they should be covered with dry sand to prevent shrivelling. In any case they should be replanted early in the autumn.

The soil that suits them best seems to be a rather heavy loam, well enriched with humus, provided that the position is well-drained and sunny and dry in summer.

No hybrid of this Iris is known. ( note in recent years many hybrids have been created by Alan McMurtrie)


Danford Iris; Iris amasiana, Born.; Bornmuelleri, Haussknecht; Iris crociformis, Freyn.
Xiphion danfordiae Baker, J. Bot. 14: 265 (1876).
Juno danfordiae (Baker) Klatt, Abh. Naturf. Ges. Halle 15: 362 (1882).
Iridodictyum danfordiae (Baker) Nothdurft, Taxon 18: 600 (1969).

Chromosome counts

2n=27, Randolph & Mitra, 1959; 2n=18, 27, Johnson & Brandham, 1997.


Iris danfordiae has the following cultivars: 'Atilla', 'Bornmülleri', 'Danfordiae Hort', '!McMurtrie. #ANMc2325


Iris danfordiae crosses: Advanced Iris danfordiae crosses: further generation sophenensis x danfordiae

Distribution and Cultivation


Culture of Reticulata Group Irises

Quick Summary of Cultural Directions

Hardiness Zones 4-8 for most varieties, Some cultivars tolerate colder, others tolerate warmer zones (please comment in comment box with your location if this cultivar grows well in zone 3, 4, 9, or 10.)
Exposure Prefers full sun for optimal performance, may still bloom in half-day shade
Water: Prefers well drained good garden soil, Tolerant of dry conditions in established plants, Intolerant of swampy conditions.
PH Prefers Neutral to basic solis 6.1 to 8.5, quite toleranr of more extreme conditions
Fertilizer Prefers rich conditions on relatively inorganic soils.

-- Main.RPries - 2011-03-07

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-- Main.RPries - 2010-02-04
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Danfordiae_Bot_Mag_7140.jpgjpg Danfordiae_Bot_Mag_7140.jpg manage 251 K 13 Feb 2014 - 18:25 BobPries Biodiversity Heritage Library
Gartenflora_Danfordiae_t1327.jpgjpg Gartenflora_Danfordiae_t1327.jpg manage 71 K 13 Feb 2014 - 18:50 BobPries Biodiversity Heritage Library
Iris-danfordiaePlotner.jpgjpg Iris-danfordiaePlotner.jpg manage 17 K 22 Jul 2016 - 12:19 BobPries Will Plotner photo
Iris_danfordiae_KWW_1.JPGJPG Iris_danfordiae_KWW_1.JPG manage 70 K 30 Jan 2015 - 04:36 Main.KWalker Photo by Ken Walker
IrisdanfordiaeFigge01.jpgjpg IrisdanfordiaeFigge01.jpg manage 133 K 11 Oct 2014 - 14:02 Main.TLaurin Photo scanned from the Rosalie Figge slide collection
IrisdanfordiaeFigge02.jpgjpg IrisdanfordiaeFigge02.jpg manage 92 K 11 Oct 2014 - 14:09 Main.TLaurin Photo scanned from the Rosalie Figge slide collection
IrisdanfordiaeFigge03.jpgjpg IrisdanfordiaeFigge03.jpg manage 133 K 11 Oct 2014 - 14:12 Main.TLaurin Photo scanned from the Rosalie Figge slide collection
IrisdanfordiaeFigge04.jpgjpg IrisdanfordiaeFigge04.jpg manage 110 K 11 Oct 2014 - 14:15 Main.TLaurin Photo scanned from the Rosalie Figge slide collection
IrisdanfordiaeFigge05.jpgjpg IrisdanfordiaeFigge05.jpg manage 77 K 11 Oct 2014 - 14:17 Main.TLaurin Photo scanned from the Rosalie Figge slide collection
IrisdanfordiaePBlack01.jpgjpg IrisdanfordiaePBlack01.jpg manage 78 K 11 Oct 2014 - 14:04 Main.TLaurin Photo by Paul Black
danfordiae.jpgjpg danfordiae.jpg manage 65 K 29 Feb 2012 - 18:45 Main.tomlwaters Iris danfordiae in Cuyamungue, NM (January 2012)
danfordiae02.jpgjpg danfordiae02.jpg manage 114 K 19 Apr 2018 - 13:27 Main.TLaurin Photo by Judy Schneider-The Shady Spot
danfordiae1.jpgjpg danfordiae1.jpg manage 72 K 14 Feb 2020 - 16:15 Main.TLaurin Photo by Tom Waters-Telperion Oasis
danfordiae10.JPGJPG danfordiae10.JPG manage 114 K 20 Feb 2024 - 16:03 Main.TLaurin Photo by Tom Waters-Telperion Oasis
danfordiae11.JPGJPG danfordiae11.JPG manage 102 K 20 Feb 2024 - 16:04 Main.TLaurin Photo by Tom Waters-Telperion Oasis
danfordiae2.jpgjpg danfordiae2.jpg manage 137 K 13 Mar 2020 - 11:46 Main.TLaurin Photo by Tom Waters-Telperion Oasis
danfordiae_pries.jpgjpg danfordiae_pries.jpg manage 59 K 21 Jan 2014 - 17:29 BobPries pries photo
irisdanfordiae01.jpgjpg irisdanfordiae01.jpg manage 80 K 07 Oct 2014 - 02:50 Main.TLaurin Photo by Kirsten
irisdanfordiae010.jpgjpg irisdanfordiae010.jpg manage 170 K 19 Apr 2022 - 20:27 Main.TLaurin Photo by Kirsten
irisdanfordiae02.jpgjpg irisdanfordiae02.jpg manage 68 K 13 Jul 2015 - 15:32 Main.TLaurin Photo by Christine Skelmersdale-Broadleigh Gardens-United Kingdom
Topic revision: r32 - 20 Feb 2024, TLaurin
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