Iris humilis is a species in the genus Iris, it is also in the subgenus of Iris and in the Psammiris section. It is a rhizomatous perennial, with a wide distribution range from Europe to Russia to China, via Mongolia and Kazakhstan. It has sword-shaped leaves, a short stem and yellow flowers with an orange beard. It is cultivated as an ornamental plant in temperate regions.
It once had Iris arenaria as a synonym or as a subspecies. It is a yellow dwarf iris only from central Europe. In some sources it is still listed as a subspecies of Iris humilis.
It has bluish-green, gray-green, or light glaucous green, sword shaped or lanceolate, basal leaves. They can grow up to 5–10 cm (2–4 in) long, and 0.2–0.7 cm wide, They have incurving tips, and they disappear in summer, after flowering.
The flower buds are normally green, that have a slight tinge of bronze.
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'. The falls are oblong shaped, and 35 mm (1 in) long and 1.2 cm wide. They are veined brown or purple brown. They have a central orange beard. The shorter, standards are 30 mm (1 in) long and 0.3 cm wide. The standards are not erect and this gives the flower a flattish appearance.
It has a 1 cm long ovary and a 0.5 cm long, funnel shaped perianth tube.
The anthers are cream with green-black edging and the pollen is greenish coloured.
After the iris has flowered, in August, it produces an elliptical seed capsule, which is about 3 cm long. The capsules dehisce (split open), below the apex. Inside the capsules, are wrinkled, light brown, or brown, pyriform (pear-shaped) seeds. They have flat creamy-white aril (or appendage).
There has been several counts, over the years including 2n=27, Krogulevich 1978, 2n-24, Sokolovskya & Probatova, 1986, 2n=28, Starobudtsev & Mironova, 1990, 2n=28, Malakhova, 1990, 2n=28 Malakhova & Markova, 1994. As Iris flavissima 2n=22, Doronkin. This shows two separate entities.
Since Iris arenaria has a count of 2n=22, this means that Iris flavissima is a synonym of Iris arenaria and 2n=27 or 2n=28 are the true counts of Iris humilis.
It is pronounced as (Iris) EYE-ris (humilis) HEW-mil-is.
It has the common name of sand iris. Although this name normally refers to Iris arenaria, which was formerly once thought to be a subspecies of Iris humilis, it is now a separate species in its own right. Iris humilis is also known as low iris, and yellow iris. Note, that Iris pseudacorus is also commonly known as the 'yellow flag' or 'yellow iris' as well.
It is known as Sand-Schwertlilie (meaning sand iris) in Germany.
It was also published by Karl H. Ugrinsky in 'Fedde's Report. Spec. Nov., Beihefte' Vol.14 in 1922.
In 1808, Bieberstein called a plant (from the Caucasus mountains) Iris humilis, in 'Fl. Taur.-Caucas' Vol.1 on page 33. It was later changed (due to Georgi's earlier publishing) and re-classified as a synonym of Iris pontica Zapal.
Distribution and habitat
It is found in Europe, within the countries of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania. However, some or most of these plants could be Iris arenaria, which also has a distribution area in central and eastern Europe.
It is found within the Siberian region, of the Russian Federation, in the states of Buryatia, Chita, Irkutsk, Magadan, Primorye and Tuva. It is also found in Kazakhstan (formerly part of Russia).
It is listed with Iris glaucescens, Iris lactea, Iris ruthenica, Iris sibirica, Iris tenuifolia and Iris tigridia being found in the Altai-Sayan region (where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan come together).
It grows in calcareous sandy and stony (or rocky) areas, including (mountain and hill) slopes, meadows, steppes, and on the edges of birch forests, or pine forests, and beside river banks.
They can be found at an altitude of 200–1,500 ft (61–457 m) above sea level.
It has average water needs during the growing season,
In the wild, some habitats generate poor seed and vegetative propagation.
The plant needs to be hand pollinated (in the UK) to create seed.
Seeds are collected from the dry pods/capsules, when the seeds are ripe.
Seeds should be sown in trays, in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse.
Germinated seedlings, can produce flowers in the second year of growth.
Hybrids and cultivars
Iris humilis cultivars include; 'Borzeana', 'Dahurica', 'Flavissima', 'Flavissima Orientalis', 'Flavissima Phylospatha', 'Stolonifera' 'Transuralensis' and 'Umbrosa'.
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.
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