Iris basaltica

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Iris basaltica
Scientific classification
Iris basaltica
Binomial name
Iris basaltica

None known [1]

Iris basaltica is a species in the genus Iris, it is also in the subgenus of Iris and in the Oncocyclus section. It is a rhizomatous perennial, from the basalt deserts and hillsides of eastern Syria. It has many falcate long leaves, and long stem. Between March and April, it has white or pale green flowers covered in thick purple or black veining and dots or spots. It also has a purple or maroon beard, tipped with yellow. It is rare cultivated as an ornamental plant in temperate regions, due to its environmental conditions of its natural habitat.


It is a geophyte, with a rhizome,[2] that is dark brown, large and compact.[3][4]

It has 9-12 leaves, that are slightly falcate (sickle-shaped) and can grow up to 24 cm (9 in) long and between 1.5 and 2 cm wide.[3][4]

It has a slender stem or peduncle, that can grow up to between 15–70 cm (6–28 in) tall.[3][4][5]

The stem has 3–4 spathes (leaves of the flower bud), they are normally above the basal leaves. They are 11 cm (4 in) long and 9 cm (4 in) wide and slightly purple tinged at the top.[3]

The stems hold terminal (top of stem) flowers, blooming between March and April.[4][6][7]

The flowers are 15 cm (6 in) tall,[3][4] come in shades of white or pale green, including light grey.[7] They have thick almost felt-like,[3] dark veining or spots in purple or black.[4][5]

Like other irises, it has 2 pairs of petals, 3 large sepals (outer petals), known as the 'falls' and 3 inner, smaller petals (or tepals), known as the 'standards'.[8] The falls are a darker shade of colour than the standards.[7] They are ovate to lanceolate shaped, and 9 cm (4 in) long and 5 cm (2 in) wide. They have a rounded dark signal patch,[5] which is 1.5 cm in diameter.[3][4] In the middle of the falls, is a sparse, row of short hairs called the 'beard', which are brownish purple,[5] or maroon or purple, tipped with dark yellow.[3][4] The paler standards are orbicular (rounded), and 8.5–10.5 cm (3–4 in) long and 7–7.5 cm (3–3 in) wide.[3][4] They also have scattered purple hairs on the claw, (part of the petal near the stem).[3]

It has creamy white and 3 cm long anthers, and thick, 1.5 cm long filaments. It has style branches which are 8 cm (3 in) long, they have multiple maroon or purple spots. The ovary is 2.5 cm long and the perianth tube is 2.8 cm long.[3]

After the iris has flowered, it produces an inflated, seed capsule, that is 6–11 cm (2–4 in) long, with 6 lobes.[3][4]


As most irises are diploid, having two sets of chromosomes, this can be used to identify hybrids and classification of groupings.[8] It has a chromosome count: 2n=20,[5] which was first counted by Marc Simonet in 1954,[9] and then by Avishai & Zohary in 1977.[10]


It is sometimes commonly known as 'Basalt Iris'.[7][9]

The Latin specific epithet basaltica refers to 'basalticus' of basaltic soils.[11]

It was first found in Kal'at-ul-Husn, (or Ḥoṣn al-Akrād) in Lebanon.[9]

It was first published and described by John Edward Dinsmore in 'Flora of Syria' (Fl. Syria) Edition 2, Vol.2 on page 597 in 1933.[1][12][13]

It was also published in (Publ. Am. Univ.) Beirut, Nat. Sc. Ser. No. 1; et No.3 in 1934,[12] then in Gardening Illustrated (with a colour illustration) in Vol.57 on page 227 in 20 April 1935 and in the Journal of The Royal Horticultural Society Vol.60 on series 5 on page 221 in 1935.[9]

In 1939,[9] it was thought by Paul Mouterde, that 'I. basaltica' was ancestral source of Iris susiana.[4] It was also thought to be a form,[9] or a wild relative of I. susiana.[14]

It was verified by United States Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Service on 4 April 2003 and then updated on 1 December 2004.[13]

It is listed in the Encyclopedia of Life,[15] and in the Catalogue of Life as Iris basaltica.[16]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

It is native and endemic to temperate western Asia.[13][17]


It is found in eastern Syria,[5][10][18] including near to the city of Talkalakh,[2][19] near to the town of Hadidah,[4][19] and also near the city of Homs.[19]


It grows on the hillsides,[4][14] or deserts, (made of basalt stone),[19][20]

They can be found at an altitude of between 400–800 metres (1,300–2,600 ft) above sea level.[4][19]


It was listed as in danger of extinction by SA Chaudhary,[4] in 1975.[3] It was then listed as 'Endangered' by IUCN in 1997.[21] It was then listed as Data Deficient in 2016, due to the Syrian civil war.[19]


Irises can generally be propagated by division,[22] or by seed growing. Irises generally require a period of cold, then a period of warmth and heat, also they need some moisture. Some seeds need stratification, (the cold treatment), which can be carried out indoors or outdoors. Seedlings are generally potted on (or transplanted) when they have 3 leaves.[23]

Hybrids and cultivars[edit]

One known cultivar is 'Basaltica'.[9]


Like many other irises, most parts of the plant are poisonous (rhizome and leaves), and if mistakenly ingested can cause stomach pains and vomiting. Also, handling the plant may cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction.[24]


  1. ^ a b "Iris basaltica Dinsm. is an accepted name". (The Plant List). 23 March 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b Ghazal, Abdullah (2008). "Landscape Ecological, Phytosociological and Geobotanical Study of Eu-Mediterranean in West of Syria" (PDF). (University of Hohenheim). Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Weymouth, C. G.; Chaudhary, S. A. (1974). "Karyotypes of Iris subgenus Susiana species in Lebanon and Syria". Bot. Notiser. 127: 513–521.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o British Iris Society (1997)A Guide to Species Irises: Their Identification and Cultivation, p. 72, at Google Books
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Iris summary" (PDF). 14 April 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Iris basaltica Dinsmore". Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d Gilbert, Henry G. (1939). "Bulbs and Roots – Supplement, American Colony Stores (Jerusalem, Palestine)". Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  8. ^ a b Austin, Claire (2005). Irises; A Garden Encyclopedia. Timber Press. ISBN 0881927309.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Black, John (21 January 2016). "(SPEC) Iris basaltica Dins". (American Iris Society). Retrieved 5 July 2016.
  10. ^ a b Avishai, Michael; Zohary, Daniel (1977). "Chromosomes in the Oncocyclus Irises". Botanical Gazette (Bot. Gaz). 138 (4): 502–511. doi:10.1086/336956. JSTOR 2473887.
  11. ^ David Gledhill The Names of Plants, p. 66, at Google Books
  12. ^ a b "Iridaceae Iris basaltica Dinsm". (International Plant Names Index). Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  13. ^ a b c "Iris basaltica". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  14. ^ a b Archibald, Jim (September 1999). "Silken Sad Uncertain Queens" (PDF). Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Iris basaltica". Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Accepted scientific name: Iris basaltica Dinsm. (accepted name)". Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  17. ^ J. R. Goodin and David K. Northington (Editors) Plant Resources of Arid and Semiarid Lands: A Global Perspective, p. 179, at Google Books
  18. ^ Tabbaa, Dr. Darem. "Syrian Iris Flowers for the celebration of the International Day for Biodiversity 2009". Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  19. ^ a b c d e f Lansdown, R.V. (2016). "Iris basaltica". (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species). Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  20. ^ Saad, Layla; Talhouk, Salma N.; Mahy, Grégory (2009). "Decline of endemic Oncocyclus irises (Iridaceae) of Lebanon: survey and conservation needs" (PDF). Oryx. 43 (1): 91–96. doi:10.1017/s0030605308000380. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  21. ^ Kerry Scott Walter, Harriet J. Gillett, World Conservation Monitoring Centre 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants, p. 678, at Google Books
  22. ^ "How to divide iris rhizomes". Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  23. ^ Waters, Tom (December 2010). "Growing Irises from Seed". Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  24. ^ David G Spoerke and Susan C. SmolinskeToxicity of Houseplants, p. 236, at Google Books


External links[edit]

Data related to Iris basaltica at Wikispecies