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■ (SPEC) Iris hookeriana Foster

1887, Botanical author Foster

Iris hookeriana Foster ( Sir Michael Foster, 1887, collected West Tibet and Kashmir); Section Pseudoregelia ; 2-5" (5-12 cm); Flowers Lilac, purple, bluish mottled darker or albino;

See below:
Table from Bot MagPhoto scanned from the Bee Warburton slide collectionPhoto scanned from the Carol Lankow slide collectionSee Reference below to Wik iCommons license


Curtis's Botanical Magazine 119: tab. 7276. 1893,Several of the Himalayan Irises belong to the small group which I have called Pseudevansia, which differs from the true bearded Irises (section Pogoniris) by having a well-developed beard down the claw of the three outer segments, arising from a rudimentary crest. The present species and I. Duthiei, Foster, which was described at the same time in the " Gardener's Chronicle," are very nearly allied to the widely-spread I. kumaonensis, Wallich, from which I cannot distinguish specifically I. Kingii, Foster (Bot. Mag. tab. 6957). The present plant was obtained from Lahul by Herr Max Leichtlin, from the Moravian missionaries who have done so much to work out the botany of that Himalayan province. It was sent by Leichtlin to Professor Foster in 1884, and our drawing was made from a plant which he flowered in May, 1892, the developed leaves being added in July. I have not been able to identify it with any of the Indian species in the Kew Herbarium.

Descr. Rootstock less fleshy than in the bearded Irises. Leaves erect, linear, pale green, strongly ribbed, not fully developed till long after the flower has faded. Peduncle short, simple, nearly hidden by its short sheathing leaves. Spathes two-flowered; valves three, oblong-lanceolate, pale green, subscariose, very ventricose; pedicel short. Ovary oblong-trigonous, half an inch long. Perianth-tube slender, under an inch long; limb bright lilac, one and a half or two inches long ; outer segments obovate-cuneate, spreading from the middle in the expanded flower; blade dark lilac, variegated with paler lilac ; claw whitish, with violet veins ; beard of white hairs, tipped with yellow, springing from an obscure crest ; inner segments narrower, rather shorter, paler, erect, conspicuously emarginate. Style crests large, deltoid. Anthers linear ; filaments short. Capsule small, oblong-trigonal, rostrate. Seeds with a small but conspicuous aril! ode. — J. G. Baker.
Foster in The Gardeners' Chronicle 61: 611. 7 May 1887, offers the following note.
"Rhizome less fleshy than that of the Pogoniris group, and more largely covered with remnants of leaves, in many respects more like I. tectorum.
Leaves immature at flowering time, at most 8 inches by 3/8 inch, becoming later ¾ inch or more in breadth, 1 foot or more in length, yellowish-green, somewhat flimsy.
Scape about 5 inches, exclusive of flower; almost wholly hidden by sheathing-leaf; two-flowered, with three spathe valves, green, persistent long after the flower, the lowest valve pointed ventricose.
Fall 1 ¾ by 7/8 inch at broadest, obovate lanceolate, the claw gradually expanding into the lamina, which is very sharply reflexed; colour of claw white, with thick dark blue-purple veins, or rather dark blue-purple, with thick white veins; these merge on lamina into a blue-purple ground, marked with large dots or blotches; under surface green in median, purple in lateral portions. The beard over the claw of fall is a thick dense beard of ordinary long clavate hairs, white, tipped with orange; these further on towards the lamina become shorter and stouter, some of them bearing on their summit a small secondary hair, and so pass through a papillose stage into the teeth of a crest, in which the beard ends about halfway down the lamina. Besides the stouter hairs are a number of fine delicate twisted hairs. In some cases the hairs do not give place to a crest, but continue to the end as a beard.
Standard: lamina narrow obovate, ¾ by ½ inch, of a uniform blue-purple, narrowing suddenly into a very caniculate claw, 5/8 inch in length, marked with red-purple veins.
Style with nearly parallel edges, very concave, crests triangular, coarsely serrate, much revolute; stigma slightly notched, of a white colour, in contrast to rest of style, which is of reddish-purple, darker in the median portions than at the sides, abruptly narrowed at junction with two styles.
Anthers reaching beyond stigma; pollen white.
Tube about ½ to 1/3 inch, green, with purple stripes; hollow along its whole length, so that united style is free down to ovary, the filaments being inserted low down in tube; not constricted above ovary.
Ovary bright green, cylindrical, or obscurely trigonal.
Capsule trigonal, with swollen sides, beaked, splitting below the beak; seed with small but conspicuous arillode.
Flowered in England in May, the foliage attaining its full development some time afterwards.
I owe this plant to the kindness of my friend, Mr. Max Leichtlin, who obtained it from Mravian missionaries at Lahul. It is to be presumed, therefore, that its native habitat is near that city.
A specimen which I received from Mr, Max Leichtlin in the midsummer of 1884 flowered imperfectly, with an undeveloped scape, in the following September; but I feel convinced that this was an abnormal effort, due to the plant being moved and then stimulated into growth at a time when it ought to have been passing quietly into its winter rest. No species of the genus as yet described has, as far as I know, been named after our great living botanist, the late Director of the Royal Gardens, at Kew, and I trust Sir Joseph D. Hooker will allow me to name after him an Iris which, though not of surpassing beauty, has certain charms, which seems to me of more than usual scientific interest and which dwells at home on the outskirts of the geographical area, the botany of which will for ever be associated with his name."
Dykes in The Genus Iris, 1913;

Rootstock , a somewhat slender rhizome, more compact than those of the Pogoniris group, and more largely covered with remnants of dead leaves.
Leaves , not more than 8 in. by 1 in. at flowering time, but becoming later ¾ in. wide by a foot or more in length, of a yellowish green. The leaves die away entirely in the late autumn.
Stem , about five inches long, nearly entirely hidden by the short sheathing leaves.
Spathes , 2-flowered, valves green, somewhat inflated, and remaining green long after the flowers have faded, 3 in. long, sometimes slightly tinged with purple.
Pedicel , very short.
Ovary , small, ½ in. or less in length, obscurely trigonal or nearly cylindrical.
Tube , ½-¾ in. long, green with purple stripes.
Falls . The rounded, oblong, blue purple blade is blotched or rather mottled with a deeper shade, and narrows gradually to a wedge-shaped haft, which is marked with thick blue purple veins on a whitish ground. The beard is of fine white hairs, mostly club-shaped, and more or less conspicuously tipped with orange. Towards the front the hairs are slightly tinged with blue. 2-2½ in. by f in. (The colour is probably variable, and red-purple forms doubtless occur.)
Standards . The oblong blade is emarginate, of a bluer colour than the falls, and narrows suddenly to a canaliculate haft, which is marked with red-purple veins on a whitish ground. 2 in. by ¾ in.
Styles, blue, sharply keeled.
Crests , triangular, sharply recurved.
Stigma , entire, with a serrate edge.
Filaments , bluish, equal in length to the anthers.
Anthers , cream.
Pollen , cream.
Capsule , about 2 in. long, borne on a pedicel I in. long, narrowing gradually to a conspicuous beak, and opening below the apex, which remains united, with the remains of the tube and flower attached to it.
Seeds , pyriform, with reddish brown wrinkled coats and a yellowish white arillus, resembling those of the Oncocyclus section, but flatter and not so prominent.

This species was described by Foster from specimens that flowered at Shelford. He had received them from Max Leichtlin, to whom they were sent from Lahul by Moravian missionaries (MS). Specimens are common in herbarium collections, and there is little doubt that it was to this plant that Baker referred when he enumerated in his Irideae (p. 25), a caulescent form of I. kumaonensis. This may be inferred from his expression "perianth tube much shorter," for the few known specimens of I. kumaonensis in which a stem has developed all have the 2-3 in. tube of the type. In I. Hookeriana the tube does not exceed 1 in. in length, and is usually about ¾ in. long.

Baker's I. gilgitensis ts apparently only a slender form of I. Hookeriana, for, although the fall blades in the type specimens at Kew are undoubtedly small, they are not spread out to their full extent. The view that Baker was only describing a weak example of I. Hookeriana is supported bythe fact that he identified Duthie's 1892 specimens from Battal in the Sind Valley of Kashmir (K) as his I. gilgitensis, while those gathered in 1901 in precisely the same locality by Duthie's collector are stronger and obviously I. Hookeriana. The climatic conditions of the seasons in which they were collected would be enough to account for the difference in vigour and size. A few plants of this species, which I owe to the kindness of Mr A. G. Harrison of Srinagar, Kashmir, have been in cultivation in my garden for several years. They flower in May, but for some reason do not increase very rapidly. Seeds are very slow to germinate, even when quite fresh, and I find that Foster had also to wait six years before seedlings appeared (MS).

Cultivation is easy in light rich soil in a well-drained sunny position. The plants will do all the better if they are kept rather dry in winter, but they must be supplied with abundant moisture during the growing season.
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Chromosome counts






Distribution & Cultivation

syn. Hooker Iris; Iris kamaonensis caulescens Baker; Iris gilgitensis Baker. Lily of the valley fragrance.

Chromosome numbers: n=12, Vir Jee 1985; n=12, Jee et al., 1989.

Table from Bot MagPhoto scanned from the Bee Warburton slide collectionPhoto scanned from the Carol Lankow slide collectionSee Reference below to Wik iCommons license

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-- BobPries - 2009-12-25
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
7276_hookeriana_edited-1.jpgjpg 7276_hookeriana_edited-1.jpg manage 48 K 25 Dec 2009 - 03:39 BobPries Table from Bot Mag
Iris_hookeriana_Shounter_valley.JPGJPG Iris_hookeriana_Shounter_valley.JPG manage 49 K 04 Aug 2016 - 15:52 BobPries See Reference below to Wik iCommons license
hookeriana01.jpgjpg hookeriana01.jpg manage 227 K 19 Aug 2016 - 22:20 TerryLaurin Photo scanned from the Bee Warburton slide collection
hookeriana3.JPGJPG hookeriana3.JPG manage 421 K 06 May 2019 - 22:02 TerryLaurin Photo scanned from the Carol Lankow slide collection
Topic revision: r12 - 06 Aug 2022, TerryLaurin
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