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■ (SPEC) Iris ruthenica Ker-Gawl.

1808, Botanical author Ker-Gawler

Iris ruthenica Ker-Gawl. (John Ker-Gawler, 1808, Transylvania to northern China and Korea); Section Limniris, Series Ruthenicae, Height 2-8" (5-20 cm); Blue;

See below:
I. ruthenicajb18.jpgIris-ruthenica-1.jpgIris-ruthenica-10.jpgIris-ruthenica-2.jpgIris-ruthenica-3.jpgIris-ruthenica-4.jpgIris-ruthenica-5.jpgIris-ruthenica-6.jpgIris-ruthenica-7.jpgRedForm01.jpgruthanica01.jpgruthanica02.jpgRuthenica373.jpgruthenica4.jpgruthenica5.jpgruthenica7.JPGruthenica9.jpgRuthenica 2nd374.jpgRuthenica from Dykes Genus Iris.jpg


Curtis's Botanical Magazine tab. 1123. 1808,In which Gawler commented "Plant cespitose ; rootstock creeping, in spontaneous specimens roughened and covered by remnants of precedent leaves mixed wlth filiform threads ; Sterile fascicles of several narrow, linear-gramineous, nerved leaves, from four to six inches high, downwards edgewise-equitant and sheathing each other conduplicately; upwards diverging distichly; flowering stem extrafoliaceous, about two inches high, with two or more sheath-like leaflets, terminated by a bivalved, one-flowered, compressed-lanceolate, subsphacelate spathe, which envelops the pedicled germen; corolla varying from blue to white, exceeding fragrant, with the scent of violets, and in proportion to the plant large; tube round, short, about the length of the germen, and many times shorter than limb, gradually enlarged into a turbinate faux, cuniculate, not solid; inner segments upright-divergent, linear-lorate, unguiculate, about one-fourth shorter than the others and nearly three times narrower; outer beardless, with recurvedly reflected lamina ; Slyle about the length of the tube, from which it is entirely free ; Segments of the inner lip of the stigmas serrately toothed ; filaments adnate to the tube ; germen oval-cylindrical, three times shorter than pedicle ; capsule> as described by Gmelin, turbinate, trigonal, and the seeds roundish and black, but sometimes pressed into different forms by mutual contact; we suspect the slem is considerably elongated during the development of the fruit.
and Ker, J. B. (Ker-Gawler), (1811), Iris ruthenica. Pigmy Iris, Curtis's Botanical Magazine, vol. 34, table 1393, 1811The publication of the present plant, which can only be considered as a more luxuriant and perfect fpecimen of that already described in No. 1123, was unintentional. We had long wished to procure a drawing of Iris verna for the present work; when Mr. Whitley, of Brompton, kindly informed us that he had numerous specimens of it in bloom, which he said had been raised from American seed; and the present plate was ready for publication, before we had convinced ourselves that the plant represented could not be the one we were in search of, although generally but erroneousiy passing for it. Verna was first inftituted a species by Gronovius in his Flora Virginica, from the dried plant in Clayton's Herbarium, still preserved in Sir Joseph Banks's Museum; from him it has been adopted by Linnaeus and subsequent authors; whose details however afford but little aslistance in discriminating it from the present species. But a reference to the prototype in the above herbarium, (showed us that verna was either a mere variety of cristata (No. 412.) with narrower leaves and smaller flower; or if specifically distinct far nearer akin to that than the present species, from which it differs by a sessile flower having a long filiform tube equal to or longer than the limb and about even with its long narrow spathe. Since the first adoption by authors of verna into their systems, the figure from Plukenet's work has been uniformly repeated by them as its synonym ; now this figure any attentive observer will soon find to belong to cristata; of which it is a diminished but very characteristic representation; where the circular ramenta of its creeping rootstock and long intervals between the fascicles, as well as the cuneately oblong laminae, and their divaricately patent ungues of the outer segments of the corolla are accurately defined. The omission of all mention of the three singular crested lines in the corolla of cristata ( subsequently taken up as a species from the living plant in the first edition of Hortus Kewensis), when we know that verna was descnbed from a dried specimen in which they are obliterated or nearly so, makes nothing against our suppofition of the identity of the two plants. We have seen cristata with leaves full as narrow as those of the plant in Clayton's Herbarium. Michaux enumerates both as distinct species; but his description of verna, like those of his predecessors, is rendered useless by its vagueness. If we could suppose that there was no mistake in Mr. Whitley's account of the quarter from which the seeds of the present plant had been received, we might from the habitat guess that Michaux's verna was meant for our plant. But we believe that there is an error in this account; and that ruthenica is of Russian origin alone and not of both Russian and Virginian, But of this we do not pretend to be positive ; although we are so that it is not the verna of Gronovius, Linnaeus, or Miller. In Hortus Kewensis the cultivation of verna in our gardens was most probably recorded solely on the authority of Miller, as was that of so many other plants in that work; and this is the more probable since there is no specimen of it from those gardens to be found in the Banksian Herbarium. To this circumstance we strongly suspect we owe the formation of cristata and verna into distinct species. Ruthenica thrives well in the open border, where it flowers in April and May ; the corolla has the scent as well as colour of the Violet; for further account fee No. 1123.-- G.(John Gawler)
Fig. 17. Waddick & Zhao, Iris of China, 1992, illustrated in color.
Tougard 1839; Ware 1877; Van T. 1900; 1938; Van W. 1907;
Dykes the Genus Iris, 1913Gives the following Description.

Rootstock , a slender, much branched rhizome, thickly covered with the hairy remains of old leaves.
Leaves , grassy, linear, with a glossy upper surface and slightly glaucous beneath, about 6 in. long by 1/6-1/4 in. or less broad, at flowering time, afterwards becoming twice as long.
Stem , from 1-8 in. long, usually bearing a reduced leaf and springing from a pair of reduced leaves at the base; 1-headed.
Spathes , 1-2 flowered; valves lanceolate, inflated, green with some pinkish-red colouration at the edges, 1-1 1/2 in. long.
Pedicel , 1/4--2 in. long.
Ovary , sharply trigonal, about 1/4 in. long.
Tube , about 1/2--1 in. long, of a deep violet colour.
Falls . The broadly oval blade passes without any constnctton into the wedge-shaped haft. The colouring consists of bright blue purple veins and dots on a creamy white ground, which becomes conspicuous on the lower part of the blade. The central ridge is slightly raised and tipped with violet. The haft often bears two curious notch-like projections near the base.
Standards , lanceolate with a narrow haft, deep purple violet.
Styles , slightly more red purple than the rest of the flower, becoming broader in the upper part.
Crests , overlapping, triangular, sometimes round, with serrate edge.
Stigma , a prominent, projecting triangle.
Filaments, mauve, attached comparatively high up on the falls.
Anthers , pale mauve.
Pollen , cream.
Capsule , short, rounded, with scarcely any trace of ribs, but opening out rapidly when ripe and shedding its seeds. The walls are then very rigid and curl back in a characteristic way.
Seeds , globose, with a remarkable white excrescence at the point of attachment and extending some distance round the seed. This appendage shrivels and tends to disappear when the seeds fall from the capsule.


This widely distributed Iris extends from Hungary to Eastern China and Corea, and has not unnaturally produced several local forms, which cannot be satisfactorily separated in herbarium specimens. Attempts have indeed been made (cf. Maxim. Bull. Acad. Pet. I.e.) to distinguish some of these forms under the names, either varietal or specific, of brevituba, nana, typica, but when we find that specimens from the same locality may have spathe valves that vary in length from -! in. to 1-!- in. (cf. Pekin, 1889, Bodinier (L)) or stems varying from I to 6 in. (cf. Tatsienlu, 1898, Mussot (P)), it seems at least undesirable to attempt any such division until we can get into cultivation a series of forms from known localities. Moreover, Maximowicz himself admits that both his typica and brevituba occur in the Altai district.

Unfortunately it is not an easy task to obtain wild specimens, for I. ruthenica, like most other Apogon Irises possessing slender rhizomes, is not an easy Iris to transplant and almost invariably arrives dead after a journey from Siberia or Central Asia. It is apparently very common along the Transsiberian Railway and I have known more than one instance where plants have been gathered growing close by the line at the various stopping places. Unfortunately none of them have survived. The best method is undoubtedly to obtain seeds and raise plants in this way. But here again there is a difficulty to be overcome, for I. ruthenica is one of the very few Irises, if not the only Iris, of which the capsule opens suddenly on ripening and so completely that all the seeds are at once scattered. In other species, the capsules dehisce gradually but some seeds at least remain at any rate until the stems collapse.

The species was originally brought into cultivation by means of seeds imported from Siberia by Conrad Loddiges in 1804. It was from one of these plants that the figure (1123) in the Botanical Magazine was prepared. Others were cultivated at Kew and quoted in Ait. Hort. Kew. I.e.
Macoun; Maxwell 1929; 1939; Hocker 1938; Per. 1938; Starker 1938;


Pilgrim Iris; Iris alpina, Pallas ex Roem. & Schult.; Iris brevituba; Iris caespitosa, Pallas; Iris cristata, Somoku Dzusetsu; Ioniris ruthenica, Klatt; Iris de Russie; Iris nana, Maxim. Iris ruthenica, Baker; Iris ruthenica, Tratt.; Iris uniflora, Pallas; Iris uniflora, Regel; Xiphion ruthenicum, Alef. ----
2n=84, Simonet, 1934; 2n=80, Krogulevich 1978. 2n=84 Doronkin 1984; 2n=84, Malakhova & Markova, 1994; 2n=84, Stepanov & Muratova, 1995. ----


Iris ruthenica Ker-Gawl
    • forma leucantha Zhao
  • var. brevituba Maxim
  • var. latifolia Kit.
  • var. nana, Maxim.

Iris ruthenica has the following cultivars; ----


non recorded ----

Distribution & Cultivation

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-- Main.RPries - 2010-02-11
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
I. ruthenicajb18.jpgjpg I. ruthenicajb18.jpg manage 25 K 27 Apr 2018 - 07:32 Main.Betsy881 Photo by John Baumfalk
Iris-ruthenica-1.jpgjpg Iris-ruthenica-1.jpg manage 40 K 18 Jul 2016 - 15:44 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-ruthenica-10.jpgjpg Iris-ruthenica-10.jpg manage 69 K 18 Jul 2016 - 15:47 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-ruthenica-2.jpgjpg Iris-ruthenica-2.jpg manage 30 K 18 Jul 2016 - 15:45 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-ruthenica-3.jpgjpg Iris-ruthenica-3.jpg manage 14 K 18 Jul 2016 - 15:45 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-ruthenica-4.jpgjpg Iris-ruthenica-4.jpg manage 40 K 18 Jul 2016 - 15:46 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-ruthenica-5.jpgjpg Iris-ruthenica-5.jpg manage 69 K 18 Jul 2016 - 15:49 BobPries Edmundas Kondratas
Iris-ruthenica-6.jpgjpg Iris-ruthenica-6.jpg manage 41 K 18 Jul 2016 - 15:46 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-ruthenica-7.jpgjpg Iris-ruthenica-7.jpg manage 109 K 18 Jul 2016 - 15:50 BobPries Edmundas Kondratas photo
RedForm01.jpgjpg RedForm01.jpg manage 109 K 28 Apr 2015 - 03:21 Main.TLaurin Photo by Joe Pye Weed's Garden-red form
Ruthenica373.jpgjpg Ruthenica373.jpg manage 67 K 20 Jan 2012 - 01:05 UnknownUser NARGS Seed 2012 #1566 cv Gustav Namesnig Pries photo
Ruthenica_2nd374.jpgjpg Ruthenica_2nd374.jpg manage 34 K 20 Jan 2012 - 01:06 UnknownUser Pries photo enlarged
Ruthenica_from_Dykes_Genus_Iris.jpgjpg Ruthenica_from_Dykes_Genus_Iris.jpg manage 34 K 20 Apr 2010 - 13:11 UnknownUser Ruthenica from Dykes Genus Iris
ruthanica01.jpgjpg ruthanica01.jpg manage 61 K 17 Jul 2015 - 13:57 Main.TLaurin Photo by Barry Blyth-Australia
ruthanica02.jpgjpg ruthanica02.jpg manage 94 K 17 Jul 2015 - 13:59 Main.TLaurin Photo by Barry Blyth-Australia
ruthenica4.jpgjpg ruthenica4.jpg manage 80 K 10 Jan 2014 - 15:41 Main.TLaurin Photo by Darius Gusas-Lithuania
ruthenica5.jpgjpg ruthenica5.jpg manage 97 K 10 Jan 2014 - 15:46 Main.TLaurin Photo by Darius Gusas-Lithuania
ruthenica7.JPGJPG ruthenica7.JPG manage 69 K 23 May 2019 - 15:14 Main.TLaurin Photo scanned from the Carol Lankow slide collection
ruthenica9.jpgjpg ruthenica9.jpg manage 105 K 25 Apr 2022 - 03:09 Main.TLaurin Photo by Gintaras Kilmaitis-Irisu Pasaulis-Lithuania
Topic revision: r20 - 26 Apr 2022, Harloiris
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