Iris ensata

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Japanese iris
Iris ensata Thunb.jpg
Iris ensata (Edo-nishiki)
Scientific classification
I. ensata
Binomial name
Iris ensata

Iris kaempferi Siebold ex Lem.

Iris ensata, Japanese iris,[1] Japanese water iris (Japanese: hanashōbu), formerly I. kaempferi, is a species of flowering plant of the iris family Iridaceae, native to Japan, China, Korea and Russia, and widely cultivated as an ornamental plant. Japanese iris may also refer to I. sanguinea and I. laevigata, both native to Japan.


I. ensata is an erect herbaceous perennial growing to 80 cm (31 in) tall, with strap-shaped leaves. The flower, appearing in midsummer, is purple with a flash of yellow on the falls.[2] The bluish purple color of the flowers is an example of the copigmentation phenomenon.[3]


Widely distributed throughout the Japanese archipelago and elsewhere, I. ensata is very hardy down to −20 °C (−4 °F). It prefers a boggy or marshy environment and soil with a low (acidic) pH. In favourable conditions it will eventually form sizable clumps.


Iris ensata is extensively grown as an ornamental plant in gardens and parks throughout the temperate zones of the world.

I. ensata is highly-prized in Japan. It is possible that it was introduced into Japanese culture in ancient times, in association with rice farming.[4] Certainly it has been cultivated and hybridised there for at least five centuries. The Hanashōbu (ハナショウブ, 花菖蒲, Iris ensata var. ensata) grows in the wet land and is the most extensively cultivated variety in Japanese gardens. According to the place where it was cultivated, I. ensata is classified into three strains – the Edo (Tokyo), Higo (Kumamoto Prefecture) and Ise (Mie Prefecture).

Upon being introduced to the west in the mid-19th century, a new chapter was opened in the cultivation of this species. In America it was intensively hybridised to produce many new cultivars. Perhaps the most influential breeders in the United States have been Arlie Payne of Indiana, the Marx family of Oregon, Arthur Hazzard of Michigan, and Currier McEwan of Maine. Between them they have produced plants with large blooms and a wide range of colours. In the UK interest in this plant has been equally strong. The national collection is held at the Marwood Hill Gardens in Barnstaple, Devon.[4]

The following cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit:-[5]

  • 'Aldridge Visitor'[6]
  • 'Alpine Majesty'[7]
  • 'Barr Purple East'[8]
  • 'Caprician Butterfly'[9]
  • 'Crystal Halo'[10]
  • 'Flying Tiger'[11]
  • 'Frilled Enchantment'[12]
  • 'The Great Mogul'[13]
  • 'Hue and Cry'[14]
  • 'Katy Mendez'[15]
  • 'The Mancunian'[16]
  • 'Returning Tide'[17]
  • 'Rose Queen'[18]
  • 'Southern Son'[19]
  • 'Variegata'[20]



  1. ^ Rudy J. Favretti and Joy P. Favretti Landscapes and Gardens for Historic Buildings: A Handbook for Reproducing and creating authentic landscape settings, p. 145, at Google Books
  2. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata". Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  3. ^ Anthocyanin-flavone copigmentation in bluish purple flowers of Japanese garden iris (Iris ensata Thunb.) T. Yabuya, M. Nakamura, T. Iwashina, M. Yamaguchi and T. Takehara, EUPHYTICA, Volume 98, Number 3, 163–167, doi:10.1023/A:1003152813333
  4. ^ a b "Iris ensata". Plant Heritage: National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  5. ^ "AGM Plants – Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 53. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  6. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata 'Aldridge Visitor'". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  7. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata 'Alpine Majesty'". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  8. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata 'Barr Purple East'". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  9. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata 'Caprician Butterfly'". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  10. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata 'Crystal Halo'". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  11. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata 'Flying Tiger'". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  12. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata 'Frilled Enchantment'". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  13. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata 'The Great Mogul'". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  14. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata 'Hue and Cry'". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  15. ^ "RHS Plantfinder -Iris ensata 'Katy Mendez'". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  16. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata 'The Mancunian". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  17. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata 'Returning Tide'". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  18. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata 'Rose Queen'". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  19. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata 'Southern Son'". Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  20. ^ "RHS Plantfinder – Iris ensata 'Variegata'". Retrieved 13 March 2018.

External links[edit]