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■(SPEC) Iris paradoxa Stev.

1817, Botanical author Steven

Iris paradoxa Steven ( Christian von Steven, 1817, Transcaucasia, Armenia, Northern Persia); Section Oncocyclus Color Code-S3D; Height 4-10" (10-25 cm). Described in Flora USSR: "Falls almost black violet, standards bright violet or dark violet blackish purple hairs."

See below: ----


Mem. Soc. Imp. Nat. Mosc. 5: 355. 1817;
Gartenflora 12: 16. Tab. 386. 1863, illustrated in color.
Dykes in The Genus Iris, 1913


Rootstock , a slender rhizome with crowded shoots.
Leaves , dwarf, narrow, falcate, resembling those of I. iberica.
Stem , 4-6 in. long, bearing a reduced leaf.
Spathes , green, clasping the tube, 2 in. long, 1-flowered, somewhat inflated and very slightly tinged with purple at the extreme edge.
Pedicel , very short.
Ovary , trigonal, under an inch long, pointed at either end.
Tube , 1/2-3/4 in.
Falls , strap-shaped, extended horizontally with nearly parallel edges. The end is rounded and slightly emarginate. The groundwork is a pale crimson or light purple, almost completely covered along the centre with black-purple hairs, giving the whole surface the appearance of black velvet. At the edges there are thick black-purple veins. About half an inch from the upper end there is a narrow cross band of pale pinkish crimson, beyond which the ground colour is almost obscured by thick black-purple veins ; 2 in. long by ½-¾ broad.
Standards . The orbicular blade narrows gradually to the short haft, which bears a number of blue or violet hairs. The bluish-white ground colour is closely veined with thick deep blue-violet veins and dotted with the same colour.
Styles , of a brownish-yellow colour, closely covered with dark brown-purple spots arranged in lines.
Crests , very small, with finely serrate edges.
Stigma , entire, prominent, oblong.
Filaments , tinged with purple.
Anthers , cream.
Pollen , cream.
Capsule , 2 in., rounded trigonal, tapering gradually at either end.
Seeds, globose with large creamy aril.


This Iris was rightly named paradoxa, " the unexpected," for its standards are four times as wide as the falls, which look and feel like a narrow strip of black velvet.

It is not a robust species nor is it at all easy to keep from year to year in England. It was partly for this reason that Foster crossed this Iris with several strong-growing Pogoniris, such as I. variegata and I. pallida. The result in each case was a plant midway between the two parents, less vigorous than the Pogoniris but yet able to grow on from year to year under ordinary cultivation. The feature of both Parvar (or Parsam, for Foster himself told me that he had forgotten exactly what Pogoniris he had used) and Parpall, which obviously resembles a pallida, is the broad velvety beard, which however is not quite so dense as that of I. paradoxa but allows the light ground colour to be seen.
The Garden. An illustrated weekly journal of horticulture in all its branches [ed. William Robinson], vol. 32: p.584, (1887)
Described by Baker in Curtis's Botanical Magazine, table 7081, 1889 as follows: "This very curious iris has long been known in cultivation, but is still very rare. It closely resembles its better known neighbour Iris iberica in habit, leaves, and the inner segments of the perianth, which in both species vary in color from white to lilac; but the outer segments of the perianth are quite peculiar and different from that of any other iris in being reduced to a mere tip and narrow margin to the diffusely-bearded claw. All the species of the subgenus Oncocyclus are restricted to the arid regions of Western Asia, one or other of them extending all the way from the borders of Egypt northward to the Caucasus. Our drawing was made from a plant flowered by Mr. R. I. Lynch at the Cambridge Botanical Gardens last May. It also flowered at Kew at about the same time.

*"Description:* Rootstock short. Produced leaves four or five, crowded at the base of the flowering stem, linear, glaucous, at most half a foot long. Flowering stem one-headed, terete, shorter than the leaves. Spathe-valves large, ventricose, oblong, greenish-white, withered at the tip at the flowering time. Pedicel and perianth-tube short; ovary cylindrical; outer segments of the perianth spreading horizontally, about an inch long, copiously veined with brownish-black on a pale brown groundwork, reduced to a mere tip and margin to the diffusely-bearded claw; inner segments of the perianth erect, large, lilac or white, obovate, narrowed suddenly to a short claw. Style-branches very convex on the back; apical crests small, deltoid. Anthers linear, longer than the filaments."
Krel. 1892; 1913; Van W. 1906; Hocker 1938;
F.C.C., R.H.S. 1900, shown by Van T.; Hort Dir. 42: 60. 1901;


Velvet Iris; Oncocyclus paradoxus Siemss. ----


Iris paradoxa cultivars include: 'Atrata', 'Choschab', 'Jolfa Form', 'Medwedewi', 'Mirabilis', 'Paradoxa', 'Paradoxa Albo-Lutescens', [[SpecParadoxaViolacea]'Paradoxa Violacea']]. ----


Iris paradoxa crosses:

Iris paradoxa crossed with *Section Iris (arilbreds):* Iris paradoxa crossed with Section Oncocyclus : Iris paradoxa crossed with Section Regelia : ¼ Iris paradoxa crosses 'Cactiforium', 'Charming Chick', 'Clotho', 'Dear Me', 'Don Ricardo', 'Emily Pyke', 'Regal Plus'. ----

Distribution & Cultivation

paradoxa01.jpgparadoxa1.jpgparadoxa12JB.jpgparadoxa2.jpgparadoxa3.jpgparadoxa - Achilles.jpgparadoxa - Walker.jpgparadoxa  choschab - Achilles.jpgParadoxa Bot Mag 7180.jpgparadoxaAtrata.jpgparadoxadetail.jpgparadoxagarteflora.jpgparadoxaJB162.JPGparadoxaJB18.jpgparadoxaParadoxaJB15.JPGparadoxaSevan13JB.JPGparadoxathegarden.jpg

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-- Main.RPries - 2010-02-03
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Paradoxa_Bot_Mag_7180.jpgjpg Paradoxa_Bot_Mag_7180.jpg manage 257 K 04 Feb 2014 - 17:04 BobPries Biodiversity Heritage Library
paradoxa01.jpgjpg paradoxa01.jpg manage 72 K 27 Dec 2015 - 17:09 Main.TLaurin Photo scanned from the Herbert Kerr slide collection
paradoxa1.jpgjpg paradoxa1.jpg manage 77 K 13 Apr 2020 - 14:40 Main.TLaurin Photo by Tom Waters-Telperion Oasis
paradoxa12JB.jpgjpg paradoxa12JB.jpg manage 36 K 03 May 2012 - 14:25 Main.Betsy881 Photo by John Baumfalk grown from seed from Jelitto, Germany
paradoxa2.jpgjpg paradoxa2.jpg manage 94 K 13 Apr 2020 - 14:46 Main.TLaurin Photo by Tom Waters-Telperion Oasis
paradoxa3.jpgjpg paradoxa3.jpg manage 111 K 27 Apr 2020 - 02:49 Main.TLaurin Photo by Tom Waters-Telperion Oasis
paradoxaAtrata.jpgjpg paradoxaAtrata.jpg manage 22 K 22 Apr 2010 - 17:12 Main.Betsy881 Photo by John Baumfalk
paradoxaJB162.JPGJPG paradoxaJB162.JPG manage 54 K 07 May 2016 - 19:58 Main.Betsy881 Photo by John Baumfalk
paradoxaJB18.jpgjpg paradoxaJB18.jpg manage 44 K 16 May 2018 - 18:47 Main.Betsy881 Photo by John Baumfalk
paradoxaParadoxaJB15.JPGJPG paradoxaParadoxaJB15.JPG manage 99 K 04 May 2015 - 20:48 Main.Betsy881 Photo by John Baumfalk
paradoxaSevan13JB.JPGJPG paradoxaSevan13JB.JPG manage 110 K 02 May 2013 - 13:26 Main.Betsy881 Photo by John Baumfalk
paradoxa_-_Achilles.jpgjpg paradoxa_-_Achilles.jpg manage 21 K 06 Feb 2010 - 21:43 Main.Betsy881 Photo by Achilles
paradoxa_-_Walker.jpgjpg paradoxa_-_Walker.jpg manage 27 K 06 Feb 2010 - 21:43 Main.Betsy881 Photo by Walker
paradoxa__choschab_-_Achilles.jpgjpg paradoxa__choschab_-_Achilles.jpg manage 29 K 06 Feb 2010 - 21:46 Main.Betsy881 Photo by Achilles
paradoxadetail.jpgjpg paradoxadetail.jpg manage 141 K 12 Apr 2016 - 12:01 BobPries John Baumfalk photo detail
paradoxagarteflora.jpgjpg paradoxagarteflora.jpg manage 122 K 22 Jul 2016 - 19:37 BobPries From Gartenflora 1863
paradoxathegarden.jpgjpg paradoxathegarden.jpg manage 77 K 22 Jul 2016 - 19:25 BobPries From The Garden 1889
Topic revision: r25 - 04 Apr 2022, TLaurin
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