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■ (SPEC) Iris latifolia Miller "English Iris"...note name change to Iris jacquinii (Shrank) ined.

1768, Miller

Iris latifolia Miller, ( Philip Miller, 1768) Subgenus Xiphium, Spanish Irises

See below:

English complete hensler.jpgEnglishIris 06.jpgEnglishIris 3.jpgIris-latifolia-11.jpgIris-latifolia-21.jpgIris-latifolia-31.jpgIris-latifolia-41.jpgIris-latifolia-51.jpglatifolia.jpgLatifolia Revue Horticole.jpglatifoliaKerner.jpgXipioides c687.jpg


Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, 1803, t. 645-692, vol. 18: t. 687S.T. Edwards - Root bulbous; bulbs fubovate, covered with dark brown fibro-membranous integuments, larger than those of Iris xiphium and not producing quite fo many offsets. Involucre lanceolately inflated, herbaceous, 1—2 seldom 3-flowered, flowers separated by a single membranous spathe or valve: outer valve of the involucre longed, reaching often to about the middle of the inner fegments. Leaves as in Iris xiphium, but larger and not rising out of the ground till Spring; length of the stem, upper cauline ones rather inflated and subimbrlcately disposed. Flowers much larger than in Iris xiphium scentless; tube as in that ; outer ungues quite straight, horizontally patent, convolute-concave, twice broader than the stigmas which they contain, traversed by a low mid-ridge continuing to about the middle of the lamina, where it becomes yellow and less prominent; laminae dependently recurved, round-ovate, equal to or even longer than the ungues, far broader, emarginately split, subundulately crisp at the edge; inner ones upright, far shorter, spatulately 'obovate, convolute-concave, somewhat spoon-shaped, subconnivent, emarginate, upwards erole ; ftigmas Oiarply keeled, about the length of the outer ungues; inner lip bipartite, revolute; segments parabolical, serrulate; outer bidentately parted; anthers and filaments blackish purple ; pollen white; varies with deep blue, violet, and white flowers; Capsule lanceolate-oblong, acutely triquetral, subinflated.
A native of the Pyrenees. We are uncertain if Desfontaines means precisely this species or xiphium, or some other that has been usually deemed a variety.
The name of « English Iris," which" we find so commonly given to it by the elder Botanists and even by the modern Florists, was acquired from the plant's having been first introduced into the Low-Countries from England, most probably without any notice of its true habitat, and hence presumed a native of our country by those that received them : Clusius lays that on his first arrival here in 1571, he sought for it wild, until he was informed by Lobel of its being only cultivated in certain gardens near Bristol, where it had been most probably imported by some vessel from Spain or Portugal. Gerarde includes it among the British plants, in which he has been followed by Dr. Withering in his Botanical Arrangements; but Parkinson was aware of its real habitat.

Flowers in June. Hardy and of eafy culture, seeding freely the best bulbs are imported yearly by the Seedfmen trom Holland, and should be put in the ground early in the Autumn. G.
see also "Colour Variation in Iris latifolia , II"-Harry Foster pp. 104-105, BIS 1988 Yearbook.
Dykes, The Genus Iris, 1913, iris xiphioides
Rootstock , a large ovate bulb with thin membranous, dark brown coats, splitting into fibres at the apex.
Leaves , channelled, the outer surface being a glaucous green and the inner a silvery grey, tapering to a point, equal in length to the stem.
Stem , 12-18 in. long, clothed in short, acuminate, reduced leaves, and producing only a terminal head of 2-3 flowers.
Spathe valves , green, ventricose, 3-4 in. long, sharply keeled.
Pedicel , 1-3 in. long, rounded, trigonal.
Ovary , narrow, triangular, 1 1/4--1 1/2 in. long.
Tube , 1/4-1/2 in., funnel-shaped.
Falls . The broad emarginate blade is separated by a marked constriction from the broadly winged haft. These wings are large and almost transparent and stand up on either side of the styles. In the wild state the flowers are almost always of a deep rich blue, set off with a conspicuous golden patch on the fall.
Standards . The blade is almost orbicular, but tapers at the base to a short wedge-shaped haft. The standards are much shorter than the falls.
Styles , broad, widening in the upper part, very sharply keeled.
Crests , triangular.
Stigma , two-pointed.
Filaments , white, stained and spotted with purple.
Anthers , white, edged blue.
Pollen , cream.
Capsule , as much as 4 in. long by 1/2--3/4" wide, tapering at either end.
Seeds , dark red-brown, globose, wrinkled.
Observations. Clusius relates in his History of Spanish Plants ( 1576) that this Iris had been brought to him from Bristol, whither he went and searched in vain for it. Subsequently he heard from Lobel that he had found it growing in gardens at Bristol and from this fact Clusius was no doubt right in drawing the inference that it had been brought to the port of Bristol by some of the many ships that traded thence to Spain and Portugal. With his usual accurate observation, Clusius distinguishes the plant at once from I. xzphium by noting that the ripe seeds rattle in the capsule, if the latter is shaken. (Semen maturum in siliquis, si moveantur, crepitat. Clusius, Hisp. p. 278.) It was owing to this early belief that the plant grew wild in the neighbourhood of Bristol that it became known as I. anglica.Gerard (Herball, p. 92, 1597) was obviously referring to this Iris when he wrote of the leaf of an I. bulbosa that "in the bottome of the hollownesse it tendeth to whitenesse," for this precisely describes the silvery-white lining of the channeled leaves.The first mention of the name "English Iris" is probably in the Hortus Eystettensis (1613), Ordo 1v, Fol. 7. i and 8. i, where white and violet forms of an Iris bulbosa anglicana are depicted.In 1720 no less than twenty garden varieties of this Iris are represented in Simula's Flora exotica, preserved in the Natural History Department of the British Museum.Among all the varieties that have been raised, ranging in colour from the deep violet blue of the wild plant through pale violet and mauve to white and from white to pink and deep red, each with its yellow central line on the falls, it is significant that no yellow flowered form has ever appeared. This fact, together with the marked difference in the shape of the segments, in the capsule and seeds and in the whole growth of the plant shows that I. xt.jh£oides is quite distinct from I. xiphium, in spite of the fact that Linnaeus does not separate them but includes them both under his I. xiphium. See the Observations on the latter, p. 2 14.For the cultivation of the "English" Iris, see the introductory remarks on the Spanish Iris group.This Iris is very easily raised from seed, though the process is somewhat slow and takes four years at least. The seeds should be sown in drills half an inch or an inch deep on soil to which plenty of old leaf mould or well-decayed manure has been added. This addition tends to preserve m the soil that moisture without which this Iris will not flourish. The young plants will germinate m spring and may be left in the seed-beds until they reach flowering size in the course of time.So many seedlings have been raised with such various names that it seems inadvisable to name any as being especially beautiful. Each dealer seems to have different names and their number is constantly increasing. Some forms are flaked and mottled in the most curious way but few, if any, are more beautiful than the deep violet blue wild type. Seedlings, apparently, always at first produce flowers of a uniform colour and only change into flaked and mottled varieties after an indefinite number of years. This phenomenon is similar to that observed in Tulips. The name Xiphion is applied to all those Irises whose rootstock is a bulb without persistent roots in the resting state
"Colour Variation in Iris latifolia"-Nigel Service BIS 1987 Yearbook
latifolia, In 1939 checklist as Iris xiphioides but Millers description has priority,
Iris latifolia Miller, ( Xiphium latifolium) Gardener's Dictionary ed. 6, 803 (1768).
Redouté, P.J., Les Liliacées, 1808, Tome IV, n° 212: illustration + description by De Candolle.
Translation The bulb of this Iris is ovoid, covered with foliaceous coats, furnished at its base with small filiform radicles. The stem rises to 4 or 6 decimetres, straight, simple, laden with leaves, and terminated by two flowers, the size of which approaches that of the Germanic Iris. The leaves, either of the base or of the stem, are Long, broad enough, curved in gutter, so that their extremity appears in the form of alena, but not truly in the form of a sword: their length is equal to that of the stem? ; They are glabrous, as well as the rest of the plant. The upper leaves, which play the rule of spathes, are short, reduced to their engaging part, curved in gutter, pointed and callouses at the top.
Within these spathes are usually two flowers, which develop only one after the other: they are large, of a blue tinged a little on the violet, but brighter than in the Germanic Iris. That the blossoms are mottled with small scattered spots of a darker violet.
The perigone is similar to that of other Iris species; Its three outer lobes are flared at the base in the form of a cross, and then terminated by a rounded limb, notched at the top nearly in the form of a kidney, they do not bear a bearded line on the middle of their internal face; The inner lobes are straight, wedge-shaped, slightly indented or split at the apex, rather similar to the lobes of stigma.
Kerner, J.S., Hortus sempervirens, vol. 27: t. 313 (1810) [J.S. Kerner]
ANDRÉ Ed., Nouvelles variétés d'iris xiphioides, Revue Horticole, 1891, pp. 36-37 + illustration
Translation The bathers and tourists who travel the Pyrenees in the months of June and July, especially near the Eaux-
Bonnes and west of the Pic du midi of Bagnères, are often delighted by the sudden view of high meadows covered with irises in bloom. They are multitudes of large blue-violet flowers, brilliant, supported by upright stems, fine, about 50 centimeters high, and accompanied by narrow leaves, gracefully curved. It is the Iris xiphioide (Iris xiphoides, Ehrh.), Which is thus improperly called "Lis of Portugal" or "Iris of England
There are 2 to 3 flowers on each stem; They develop one after the other. On their infundibuliform tube are inserted the outer lobes of the corolla, orbicular, toothed, indented at the apex, decurved, onguiculate at the base; The inner lobes are oval-orbicular, toothed, narrowed at the base in the triangular tab; The blades are spread out, bicarenated outside, with 3 large petaloid divisions
The background color of the flower rises from a yellow macule in the center of the outer divisions. This characteristic is generally found on the many varieties that the cultivation has obtained since the plant was transported in the gardens. Among these varieties, at the Exposition Universelle of 1889, there was a great deal of admiration which M. Thiebaut, a horticulturist in Paris, had exhibited, among whom we have had the following three painted:
1. Edmond Scherer. - Large flower of a beautiful purple, external lobes and inte-Toothed-fringed, with white spotted center with a golden central line.
2. Argentea. - Flower not less great And beautiful, with striated rosy internal divisions, With external lobes reminiscent of a White cattleya, slightly streaked, marked with Red-violet spots and lined with yellow
3. J. Victor. - Beautiful color vio-Dark uniform, slightly lighted with white in the center and lined with gold on the median vein. Independently of these three beautiful plants, one could find many others.


Xiphion latifolium Mill., Gard. Dict. ed. 8: n.º 3 (1768); Iris xiphioides Ehrh., Beitr. Naturk. 7: 140 (1792); Xiphion jacquinii Schrank, Flora 7(2 Beibl.): 17 (1824). note the RHS World Checklist now accepts Iris jacquinii (Shrank) ined. as the proper name; Iris cepifolia Stokes, Bot. Comm. 1: 233 (1830); Iris pyrenaea Salzm. ex Bubani, Dunalia: 94 (1878); Iris argentea auct., Rev. Hort. (Paris) 63: 36 (1891); Iris anglica Tubergen, Nursery Cat. (van Tubergen) 1897(Bloembollen): 23 (1897).

Chromosome counts


  • Cultivars of Iris latifolia: 'Alenesford'; 'Alexandre Dumas'; 'Almona'; 'Alona'; 'Anton'; 'Argus'; 'Aristocrat'; 'Bacchus'; 'Barhos'; 'Belissima'; 'Bleu Aimable'; 'Bleu Celeste'; 'Blue Giant'; 'Broxted Bluebird'; 'Broxted Neptune'; 'Broxted Virgo'; 'Delft Blue'; 'Duchess Of York'; 'Hector'; 'Hercules'; 'Isabella'; 'John Ducker'; 'King Of The Blue's; 'King Of The Purples'; 'La Nuit'; 'Mansfield'; 'Menelik'; 'Mirabeau'; 'Mont Blanc'; 'Mount Ranier'; 'Perfection'; 'Perle Des Jardins'; 'Prince Albert'; 'Prince Of Wales'; 'Princess Mary'; 'Queen Of The Blues'; 'Queen Of Violets'; 'Queen Victoria'; 'Ruby'; 'Sophia'; 'The Giant'; 'Thomas Moore'; 'Tri-Color'; 'Tricolor'; 'White Lady'.
  • Varieties listed in Barr & Son 1884 catalog: 'Abigail', 'Adrian', 'Amphimachus', Amusant' 'Armida', 'Blanche', 'Blanche Fleure', 'Cavaignac'. 'Cleo', 'Gertrude', 'Graaf Bentink', 'Henri IV', 'Hypocrates', 'La Charmante', 'Le Liban', 'La Superbe', La Vierge', 'Lilacinus', 'L'Unique', 'Mountains Of Snow', 'Mont Blanc', 'Palatinus', 'Peleus', 'Perfecta', 'Pharon', 'Romulus', Simon', 'Vainquer', 'Victoria', 'Wapen Van Rotterdam'.
History of Garden Varieties
Many cultivars were available in the past but no longer extant. View a history of these cultivars at English Iris Cultivar History.


none recorded

Distribution and Cultivation

Distribution: Region:
Cultivation: of Iris latifolia The Floricultural Cabinet and Florist's Magazine vol. 10, p.115-116, 1842 provided the following cultivation note on English an Spanish Irises grown in England; "On Growing the Spanish and English Irises. — In a former number of the Cabinet I observed some strong recommendations to grow the Spanish and English Irises. I procured of Messrs. Lockhart an entire set, and grew them in an open bed the last summer. Their beauty in colour and variety was quite charming. I got the roots when I had my Hyacinths, in October. I planted one each" when in a forty-eight sized pot, well drained in a compost of rich loam and peat, about equal parts. I placed them in a dry cool frame , protected from frost, through winter. Early in March I turned them out of the pots, with entire balls? and planted them in a raised circular bed. At the end of April they began to bloom, and continued till the close of July. The first week in September I took up the bulbs and preserved them as done to tulips, till the first week of last November, when I potted half of them as before. I have just now potted the other half, hoping, as they will be later, to prolong the blooming season. They well merit every attention." this was followed by a descriptive list of the kinds grown. (see link)

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-- Main.RPries - 2010-02-04
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
EnglishIris_06.jpgjpg EnglishIris_06.jpg manage 71 K 12 Feb 2010 - 18:17 Main.shanatse English iris
EnglishIris_3.jpgjpg EnglishIris_3.jpg manage 54 K 12 Feb 2010 - 18:15 Main.shanatse English iris
English_complete hensler.jpgjpg English_complete hensler.jpg manage 1 MB 01 Jun 2023 - 21:54 RobertRPries  
Iris-latifolia-11.jpgjpg Iris-latifolia-11.jpg manage 226 K 20 Jan 2015 - 17:58 BobPries Peter Bohnert photo
Iris-latifolia-21.jpgjpg Iris-latifolia-21.jpg manage 233 K 20 Jan 2015 - 19:24 BobPries Peter Bohnert photo
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Latifolia_Revue_Horticole.jpgjpg Latifolia_Revue_Horticole.jpg manage 263 K 09 Aug 2016 - 16:28 BobPries Revue Horticole
Xipioides_c687.jpgjpg Xipioides_c687.jpg manage 19 K 11 Jan 2012 - 17:17 UnknownUser Curtis's Botanical Magazine
latifolia.jpgjpg latifolia.jpg manage 81 K 09 Aug 2016 - 15:57 BobPries Courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage library
latifoliaKerner.jpgjpg latifoliaKerner.jpg manage 65 K 09 Aug 2016 - 16:11 BobPries  
Topic revision: r28 - 01 Jun 2023, RobertRPries
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