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■ (SPEC) Iris speculatrix Hance

1875, Botanical author Hance

Iris speculatrix Hance. (Henry Fletcher Hance, 1875, Hong Kong China); Section Limniris , Series Chinenses , Height 8-10" (20-25 cm); Lilac with triangular or heart shaped dark violet-purple zone surrounding central white area spotted purple; yellow ridge deepening to orange; See below:
Iris-speculatrix-3Murrain.jpgIris-speculatrix-4Murrain.jpgIris-speculatrix-Mathes.jpgIris-speculatrix-Murrain.jpgIris-speculatrixWalker.jpgIris-speculatrixWalker2.jpgspeculatrix bot mag tab 6306.jpg


Jour. Bot. 13: 196. 1875;
The Gardeners' Chronicle 40: 36. 8 July 1876.
Iris of China, 1992, illustrated in color;
John Gilbert Baker in .Curtis's Botanical Magazine tab. 6306. 1877 provides the following comments

"This is a very interesting novelty. It was discovered in April, 1874, by a Chinese workman, attached to the botanical garden of Hong-Kong, on a hill facing the sea between Victoria Peak and Mount Davis, in that island. Its general habit is nore like that of one of the Cape or Angolan Moraeas than that of the ordinary Irises of the north temperate zone, but in structure it belongs clearly to the small group of crested Irises, of which I. japonica, commonly grown in gardens under Ventenat's name of I. fimbriata, is the oldest and best known representative. Of this group seven species are now known, of which two are North American, and the others all Japanese, Chinese, and Himalayan. For the fine living plant from which the present plate was made, the Kew collection is indebted to Mr. C. Ford, of Hong-Kong Botanic Garden. It was received in April, 1877, and came into flower immediately after its arrival in this country. The plant is not likely to prove hardy in England.
Descr. Rhizome short creeping near the surface of the ground, about a third of an inch in diameter, the crowded relics of former leaves splitting up into fibers. Leaves three produced to half an inch broad, the largest about a foot long at the flowering time, lengthening out to a foot and a half afterwards. Stems slender, terete, arcuate, one-headed, about a foot long, bracteated by two or three linear adpressed reduced leaves, Spathe two-flowered, three-valved, the outer valves linear, green at the flowering-time, one and a half or two inches long. Pedicel as long as the ovary at the flowering time, afterwards an inch or more long. Perianth with a broadly funnel-shaped tube an eighth or a sixth of an inch long, spreading falcately, with a bright lilac almost orbicular blade with a couple of white spots at the base, which is half as long as the claw, the latter paler in color, spotted and veined with deep lilac, furnished from tip to bottom with a shallow bright yellow crest; inner segments of the limb oblanceolate-unguiculate, pale lilac, unspotted, permanently erect, rather shorter than the outer ones. Branches of the style, including their lanceolate crests, as long as the inner segments of the perianth, with which they coincide in color. Capsule an inch long, with three lanceolate acuminate diverging valves."
Journal of the Linnean Society of London 16: 143. 1878;
The Gardeners' Chronicle 87: 396. 23 June 1900;
Dykes in The Genus Iris, 1913;

Rootstock , ½ in. in diameter, the crowded relics of former leaves splitting up into fibres. The growth is very similar to that of I. bracteata and other Californian species.
Leaves , distinctly ribbed, 12-18 in. by H in., linear ensiform.
Stem , 5-12 in., bearing 2 or 3 reduced leaves.
Spathes , 2-flowered, 1½-3½ in. long, green, acuminate.
Pedicel , 1 in. at flowering time, afterwards 1 }--2 in. long.
Ovary , ½ in., with a tapering neck.
Tube , rather less than ½ in. long.
Falls . The almost orbicular blade is much shorter than the pale red-purple haft and is of a bright red-purple colour with a patch of white at the end of the shallow bright-yellow crest.
Standards , pale lilac, oblanceolate, unguiculate, shorter than falls, erect.
Styles , of the same length and colour as the standards.
Crests , large, triangular.
Stigma ,
Filaments ,
Anthers ,
Pollen ,
Capsule , ½-f in. long, tapering at either end, trigonal with a raised line on each face, shortly beaked.
Seeds , globular with white attachment as long as the diameter of the seed.


Little is known of this Iris in cultivation although a plant once flowered at Kew. By the kindness of Mr S. T. Dunn and Capt. Basil Taylor, I was able to obtain a few seeds from Hongkong. For some reason, however, I failed to keep alive the few seedlings that germinated. Better success attended the one plant that germinated from a few seeds that I sent to the south of France. This plant is growing well in rather heavy limestone soil, although it has not yet flowered. I. speculatrix would probably prove not to be hardy in England and could only be grown under glass, at any rate during the winter months. Its relationship to the other members of the Evansia section is uncertain. Its seeds are certainly distinct and so is the whole appearance of the plant. It is possible that further knowledge of it would lead to a different classification.
New Flora & Silva 11: 3, 177. Apr. 1939;
| Previously placed in Section Lophiris because of crest-like ridge in signal area, but Wu & Cutler (1985), show closer affinities to series Chinensis. ----




2n=44, Snoad, 1952; 2n=44, Lenz, 1959, 2n=44, Chimphamba, 1973; 2n=44, Mao & Xue, 1986. ----





Distribution & Cultivation

Iris-speculatrix-3Murrain.jpgIris-speculatrix-4Murrain.jpgIris-speculatrix-Mathes.jpgIris-speculatrix-Murrain.jpgIris-speculatrixWalker.jpgIris-speculatrixWalker2.jpgspeculatrix bot mag tab 6306.jpg

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-- Main.RPries - 2010-02-11
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Iris-speculatrix-3Murrain.jpgjpg Iris-speculatrix-3Murrain.jpg manage 26 K 24 Sep 2013 - 16:54 BobPries Jim Murrain photo
Iris-speculatrix-4Murrain.jpgjpg Iris-speculatrix-4Murrain.jpg manage 73 K 24 Sep 2013 - 16:54 BobPries Jim Murrain photo
Iris-speculatrix-Mathes.jpgjpg Iris-speculatrix-Mathes.jpg manage 60 K 24 Sep 2013 - 16:55 BobPries Harold Mathes photo
Iris-speculatrix-Murrain.jpgjpg Iris-speculatrix-Murrain.jpg manage 18 K 24 Sep 2013 - 16:56 BobPries Jim Murrain photo
Iris-speculatrixWalker.jpgjpg Iris-speculatrixWalker.jpg manage 35 K 28 Jul 2016 - 14:29 BobPries Ken Walker photo
Iris-speculatrixWalker2.jpgjpg Iris-speculatrixWalker2.jpg manage 162 K 28 Jul 2016 - 14:32 BobPries Ken Walker photo
speculatrix_bot_mag_tab_6306.jpgjpg speculatrix_bot_mag_tab_6306.jpg manage 63 K 26 Sep 2013 - 15:03 BobPries Botanicla Magazine tab 6306
Topic revision: r8 - 06 Nov 2016, BobPries
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