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■ (SPEC) Iris palaestina (Baker) Boiss.

1871, Botanical author Baker

Iris palaestina (Baker) Boissier Subgenus Scorpiris (Juno); height 4-8", (10-20 cm); Rootstock an ovoid bulb, 2-3 cm in diameter; with light brown membranous outer tunics that extend beyond the neck; fleshy storage roots; Leaves light green, glossy on upper surface, undulate with white, ciliate margins; 1-3 flowers, with one per spathe; Flowers yellowish-white, greenish or pale sky-blue; Small standards 1,5-2 cm long by .3 cm wide, spreading or reflexed, Falls 4,5-5,5 cm; wings at haft turned upwards and usually blue veined on the outside, the blade recurved, marked with radiating grayish blue oblong and broad veins or spots. Down the middle runs an elevated yellow stripe that is purple dotted and prominent but not crested. Style branches as long as falls, 2 pointed lobes that are longer than broad. See Dykes below to be distinguish from Iris planifolia.

See below:
Rafael Diez Dominguez photoRafael Diez Dominguez photoRafael Diez DominguezTony Hall photoTony Hall photoTony Hall photo sampled


Iris palaestina (Baker) Boiss., Fl. Orient. 5: 120 (1882).
Syn. Xiphion palaestinum Baker in Journal of Botany (London) 9: 108 (1871), plate 169, illustrated;
Danin, A. (2004). Distribution Atlas of Plants in the Flora Palaestina Area: 404-410. Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities
Dykes, The Genus Iris, 1913


Rootstock , a compact ovoid bulb with persistent fleshy roots and brown or purplish outer coats.
Leaves , 5-8 in number, channelled, 4-6 in. long, tapering to a point, the upper surface glossy and the under glaucescent.
Stem , very short, entirely hidden by the leaves, bearing 1-3 flowers.
Spathe valves, 3 in. long, pale whitish green, loose but not inflated.
Pedicel , very short at first but eventually thrusting the ripe capsule to the surface of the ground.
Ovary , cylindrical, practically sessile in the spathe, t in. long.
Tube , 2-3 in. long, slender.
Falls , 2-3 in. long, less than an inch broad; the wedge-shaped haft bears conspicuous opaque wings, as in I. alata, the blade being oblong, with a blunt emarginate point. Along the haft runs a low yellowish ridge with intermittent black dots, which becomes orange on the blade. The ground colour is either yellow, green or blue, marked with a few veins of a deeper shade.
Standards , {-! in. long, poised horizontally, the haft so deeply channelled as to be almost tubular; the blade is small, ovate, emarginate and usually more or less coarsely toothed.
Styles , narrow, of the same colour as the falls, the edges irregularly toothed.
Crests , large, overlapping, sub-quadrate, with coarsely serrated edges.
Stigma, entire, conspicuous.
Filaments , slightly longer than the anthers, purplish white without the hairlike processes present on those of alata.
Anthers , short, sometimes edged with purple or blue.
Pollen , cream-coloured, spherical, covered with minute spines.
Capsule , oblong, trigonous.
Seeds , small, brown, oval.


This Iris may be looked upon as the eastern form of I. alata. The difference between the two plants is really very slight except in so far as I. palestina is usually decidedly smaller than /. alata. The colour is more variable in the former, but Post found in Syria a variety that he called coerulea and colour alone forms no real specific difference. Foster in Bulbous Irises, pp. 79 and 83, makes a conspicuous difference in the shape of the standards but the examination of a number of specimens shows that this is variable. In both cases the standard consists of a canaliculate haft and an ovate blade. The edge of the latter is always somewhat irregularly indented and these indentations easily give to so small a surface as the blade of the standard of /. palestina the appearance of being trilobed, whereas in I. alata the indentations appear insignificant along the edge of the larger surface. Minute differences may however be found. In I. alata the stigma is distinctly bilobed but in palestina entire, the edge being in both cases finely crenate. Another point of difference can be discovered by the microscopic examination of the falls. In both cases the central ridge of orange or yellow, spotted with black, is covered with minute hairs or tubercles, scattered among which are a number of larger processes. The tips of these are in alata merely slightly thickened, whereas in palestina the extremities are almost globular.

Foster's statement (ibid. p. 79) that short black hairs or tubercles arise from each of the black spots along the central ridge is a somewhat misleading account of the actual structure, for the long hairs or tubercles occur at irregular intervals both on and alongside the yellow ridge and are of the same colour as that of the groundwork from which they happen to spring. The slight pubescence formed by these longer processes is visible to the naked eye in both species but is more distinct on the fall of I. palestina. On the other hand the filaments of the anthers of I. alata bear numerous long, jointed processes, which are not present in I. palestina.

As a garden plant, I . palestina is, if anything, more difficult to manage than I. alata. It has the same difficulty in ripening its growth, and its whole constitution seems to be less robust. Even in the wild state, the plants never grow so luxuriantly as do some specimens of I. alata. Imported bulbs, however, usually flower well in their first season at a slightly later period than I. alata.
Post, G.E. (1933). Fl. Syria, Palestine & Sinai 2: 583-604. American Press, Beirut.
Innes, C. (1985). The World of Iridaceae: 1-407. Holly Gare International Ltd., Ashington.
Feinbrun-Dothan, N. (1986). Flora Palaestina 4: 112-137. Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.



Xiphion palaestinum Baker in Journal of Botany (London) 9: 108 (1871 ----

Chromosome counts

2n=24 Colasante & Vosa 1981; 2n=24 Feinbrun 1986. ----





Distribution & Cultivation

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-- BobPries - 2010-04-20
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Iris-palestina-1.jpgjpg Iris-palestina-1.jpg manage 163 K 13 Jan 2015 - 21:34 BobPries Rafael Diez Dominguez photo
Iris-palestina-2.jpgjpg Iris-palestina-2.jpg manage 170 K 13 Jan 2015 - 21:35 BobPries Rafael Diez Dominguez photo
Iris-palestina-3.jpgjpg Iris-palestina-3.jpg manage 155 K 13 Jan 2015 - 21:35 BobPries Rafael Diez Dominguez
Iris-palestina-4.jpgjpg Iris-palestina-4.jpg manage 80 K 13 Jan 2015 - 21:36 BobPries Tony Hall photo
Iris-palestina-TH.jpgjpg Iris-palestina-TH.jpg manage 186 K 14 Jan 2015 - 13:26 BobPries Tony Hall photo
palestina.jpgjpg palestina.jpg manage 49 K 20 Jan 2015 - 13:13 BobPries Tony Hall photo sampled
Topic revision: r11 - 04 Nov 2016, BobPries
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