Iris histrioides

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Iris histrioides
Iris histrioides.jpg
Scientific classification
I. histrioides
Binomial name
Iris histrioides
  • Iridodictyum histrioides (G.F.Wilson) Nothdurft
  • Iris histrioides var. sophenensis (Foster) Dykes
  • Iris reticulata var. histrioides G.F.Wilson
  • Iris reticulata var. sophenensis Foster [1]

Iris histrioides, (also known as 'Orchis Iris', ‘winter iris’ and 'Harput iris') is a species in the genus Iris, and in the subgenus of Hermodactyloides. It is a bulbous perennial, that is native to Turkey, and has blue scented flowers. It is cultivated as an ornamental plant in temperate regions, and has many known cultivars.


It is similar in form to Iris histrio, but with flowers a deeper shade of blue,[2] and shorter stem.[3]

It has bulbs which are coated with a solid brown fibrous network.[4]

It has leaves that grow up to 40–50 cm (16–20 in) high,[3][5] and are squarish in cross section, thicker than in other Reticulatas.[3] They appear after the flowers have bloomed or sometimes as they open.[3][4][6]

It has a very very short stem.[4]

The flower is about 6–7 cm (2.4–2.8 in) tall.[5][7][8]

It blooms in early spring, normally January,[5] or February.[4]

It has flowers that vary in shade from bright blue to violet.[4][7][9]

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'.[10]:17 The falls have a yellow signal, with many black spots,[4][7][8] also they have a yellow ridge.[7][8] The flowers can last up to a week on the plant, depending on the weather.[4]


As most irises are diploid, having two sets of chromosomes, this can be used to identify hybrids and classification of groupings.[10]:18 It has been counted several times. As 2n=17 by Randolph & Mitra in 1959, 2n=16 by Johnson & Mathew in 1989 and 2n=16+1B, Johnson & Brandham in 1997.[11]

It is normal stated as 2n=16,[4] or 2n=17.[7]


It is sometimes known as the 'Orchis Iris',[12][13] ‘winter iris’,[14] or 'Harput iris',[2] after the Turkish city of Harput.[15]

It was first published as Iris reticulata var. histrioides and described by G.F.Wilson in Gardeners' Chronicles ser.3 Vol.9 n page 117 in 1891.[11] In 1892, in the 'Journal of Horticulture' Vol.III Issue 24 on page 121, Samuel Arnott republished it as Iris histrioides.[16]

The specific epithet histrioides, refers to resembling Iris histrio.[4][17]

Iris histrioides was verified by United States Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Service on 3 April 2003, then updated on 1 December 2004.[18]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

It is native to Europe.[18]


It is found in Asia minor,[2] or Turkey,[4][19] near Amasya.[7]


It commonly grows on the mountain slopes,[14][3] within pine forests,[3] at an altitude of 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) above sea level.[3][19][4]


It was on the 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants.[20]


It is a hardy species,[8] to between USDA Zone: 5 - 8.[21] It is hardier than Iris histrio.[3] But be planted in well-drained soils, to protect from summer rains, which will rot the bulb.[4]

It is suitable for a rock or gravel garden or front of border.[22] It likes rocky soils that dry out completely in summer.[4]

Once the bulb has been planted, it can take many years to reach flowering size. Also it has the habit of the main bulb splitting into many bulblets, that can take many years to reach flowering size.[23]

Grows well outside but also good in the alpine house. This species is represented in cultivation by several cultivars.[3]

Cultivars known[edit]

  • Iris Angel Tears' (blue with a honey mark on white ground with a small yellow vein),[8]
  • Iris 'George' (purple),[19]
  • Iris 'Katharine Hodgkin'(light blue standards, pale yellow falls, a 1960s hybrid of Iris histrioides and the primrose-yellow Iris winogradowii),[24]
  • Iris 'Harmony' (light blue, a hybrid between I. histrioides and Iris reticulata),[19]
  • Iris 'Joyce' (deep blue falls and sky blue standards),[25]
  • Iris 'Lady Beatrice Stanley' (dark blue or pale-blue flowers and a mass of dark spotting on the falls),[19][26]
  • Iris 'Major' (royal blue),[19][27]
  • Iris 'Pauline' (light blue, a hybrid between I. histrioides and I. reticulata),[19]


  • Iris histrioides var. sophenensis also, from Turkey is deep violet-blue with little veining or spotting, narrow petals and a yellow ridge.[28]


Like many other irises, most parts of the plant are poisonous (rhizome and leaves), if mistakenly ingested can cause stomach pains and vomiting. Also handling the plant may cause a skin irritation or an allergic reaction.[29]


Iris histrioides and Iris persica L. have been used as food ingredients in Turkey.[30]


  1. ^ "Iris histrioides (G.F.Wilson) S.Arn. is an accepted name". (The Plant List). Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Donald Wyman Wyman's Gardening Encyclopedia, p. 576, at Google Books
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Iris aphylla". Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Chapter III bulbous irises". Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Stebbings, Geoff (1997). The Gardener's Guide to Growing Irises. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. p. 66. ISBN 0715305395.
  6. ^ James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey (Editors) The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification, p. 647, at Google Books
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Iris summary" (PDF). 14 April 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Reticulata Irises". 11 May 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  9. ^ Christopher Bricknell (Editor) Gardeners' Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers 7th Edition (1994), p. 612, at Google Books
  10. ^ a b Austin, Claire (2005). Irises; A Garden Encyclopedia. Timber Press. ISBN 0-88192-730-9.
  11. ^ a b Pries, Bob (4 December 2016). "(SPEC) Iris histrioides (G.F.Wilson) Arnott". (American Iris Society). Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  12. ^ "A Sure Cure for Winter Blues". 7 April 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  13. ^ "Orchid iris". Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  14. ^ a b Haworth, Nick. "Winter iris bring a touch of blue". Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  15. ^ Dan H. Meckenstock Breeding Red Irises, p. 41, at Google Books
  16. ^ "Iris histrioides (G.F.Wilson) S.Arn". 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  17. ^ D. Gledhill The Names of Plants, p. 220, at Google Books
  18. ^ a b "Iris histrioides". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Bourne, Val (26 January 2002). "How to grow: Reticulate irises". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  20. ^ Kerry Scott Walter, Harriet J. Gillett (Editors) 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants, p. 679, at Google Books
  21. ^ "IRIS histrioides". Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  22. ^ Chester-Davis, Leah The Successful Gardener, p. 83, at Google Books
  23. ^ "Iris". 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  24. ^ Hoyland, John (22 February 2008). "Iris 'Katharine Hodgkin': How to grow". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  25. ^ Joyce, David. Garden Plant Selector. Ryland Peters, London. p. 297. ISBN 9781900518529.
  26. ^ "Iris histrioides 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'". Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  27. ^ "Iris histrioides 'Major'". Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  28. ^ Stuart Max Walters (Editor)The European Garden Flora: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated , p. 354, at Google Books
  29. ^ David G Spoerke and Susan C. Smolinske Toxicity of Houseplants, p. 236, at Google Books
  30. ^ KANDEMÜR, Nezahat; ENGÜN, Ali (5 January 1999). "An Autecological Study on Iris histrioides Foster (Iridaceae) Distributed in the Central Black Sea Region" (PDF). Retrieved 25 June 2014.

Other sources[edit]

  • Aldén, B., S. Ryman, & M. Hjertson Svensk Kulturväxtdatabas, SKUD (Swedish Cultivated and Utility Plants Database; online resource on 2012 (Kulturvaxtdatabas)
  • Davis, P. H., ed. Flora of Turkey and the east Aegean islands. 1965-1988 (F Turk)
  • Mathew, B. The Iris. 1981 (Iris) 175-176.

External links[edit]