Iris japonica

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Iris japonica
Iris japonica3.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Iridaceae
Genus: Iris
Subgenus: Limniris
Section: Lophiris
Species: I. japonica
Binomial name
Iris japonica
Thunb.
Synonyms
  • Evansia chinensis (Curtis) Salisb.
  • Evansia fimbriata (Vent.) Decne.
  • Evansia japonica (Thunb.) Klatt
  • Iris chinensis Curtis
  • Iris fimbriata Vent.
  • Iris japonica f. japonica (none known)
  • Iris japonica f. pallescens P.L.Chiu & Y.T.Zhao
  • Iris squalens Thunb. [Illegitimate]
  • Moraea fimbriata (Vent.) Loisel.
  • Xiphion fimbriatum (Vent.) Alef. [1]

Iris japonica (also known as 'fringed iris', 'shaga' or 'butterfly flower'), despite its name, is a native of China and Japan. It is a species in the genus Iris, it is also in the subgenus of Limniris and in the Lophiris section. It is a rhizomatous perennial plant, with pale blue, lavender or white flowers with an orange or yellow crest. It is cultivated as an ornamental plant in temperate regions.

Description[edit]

Iris japonica is similar in form to Iris confusa, but the leaves are at ground level.[2]

It has a short,[3] slender,[4][5] greenish,[6][7][8][9] creeping rhizomes.[4][10][11][12][13][14][15] It spreads by sending out thin, wiry,[2][16] long stolons.[5][6][17][18][19][20] They are shallow rooted,[21][22] and form dense carpets[23] and clumps.[6][10][24]

It is not invasive.[9]

It has basal,[4][9] deep green,[5][13][18][19][23] or dark green or yellowish green [4][7] or light green leaves.[25] They are glossy (or shiny) on one side and dull on the other side.[2][4][6][9][11][17][20][22] They are tinted, reddish purple, close to the rhizome and do not have a mid vein.[2][4] The sword-shaped,[9][25] or lance-shaped leaves,[12][20] can grow up to between 25–60 cm (10–24 in) tall and 1.5-3.5 cm wide.[3][4][5][6][9][11][14][17][18][22][23][24][26] They are generally described as evergreen,[13][14][15][18][21][22] and grow in a broad fan,[12][14][16][18] with arching tips.[9][18][19]

It has wiry,[19] stout stems,[21] that can grow up to between 25–80 cm (10–31 in) tall.[2][3][6][8][9][10][11][12][14][15][17][18][20][22][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32]

It has 5-12 short, slender branches,[6][8][10][11][12][13][14][15][17][20] (or pedicels) near top of the plant.[4] The stiff pedicels can reach between 1.5–2.5 cm (1–1 in) long.[4] The flowering stem (and branches) grow higher than the leaves.[5][10][23]

The stems have 3-5 spathes (leaves of the flower bud), which are lanceolate,[5] and 9.5–2.2 cm (4–1 in) long.[6]

The stems (and the many branches) hold between 2 to 4 flowers,[4][5][17][21] in spring and early summer,[9][12][17][18][19][20][24][33][34] between March to April, (in Japan)[4] or April and May.[3][7][9][10][11][14][22][25][26][30][31][32][35]

The flowers are like Iris cristata flowers but paler and fancier.[21]

The short lasting flowers open in succession (one after another),[10][11][14][20][30][34] for between 2,[7][21] and 5 weeks.[10][13][24] These flowers have a clove pinks aroma.[21]

The flattish,[7][17][17][20] flowers are 4.5–6 cm (2–2 in) in diameter,[4][9][11][14][15][17][18][20][22][24][26][29] and come in shades of pale blue,[2][3][4][6][9][11][12][13][14][15][19][22][23][26] or pale lavender,[7][8][17][18][20][21][25][25][27][28][29] or lilac,[5][8][30] or purple,[11][12][14] to white.[2][3][9][11][12][13][14][15][17][18][20][21][22][23][24][27][28][34]

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'.[11][13] The falls are elliptic or obovate, with a spreading limb and blue or purple/violet blotching, spots, (or dots) around a central yellow signal patch around a visible yellow,[3][4][5][6][9][12][13][23][24][30] or orange crest.[7][8][11][15][17][18][20][21][25][27][28][29] They are 2.5–3 cm (1–1 in) long and 1.4–2 cm wide.[4][5] The standards are elliptic or narrowly obovate. They are 2.8–3 cm (1–1 in) long and 1.5-2.1 cm wide.[4] The standards spreading to the same plane as the falls,[18] creating the 'flat' look.

All the petals are fringed (fimbriated) around the edges.[4][5][6][6][7][9][11][12][13][15][17][18][21][22][25]

It has a 1.1–2 cm long perianth tube,[4][5][17][26] 0.8-1.2 cm long stamens, white anthers and 7-10mm ovary.[4]

It has 0.5-0.75 long and pale blue style branches.[4][5] The terminal lobes are fimbriated (fringed).[4][5][17]

After the iris has flowered, between May and June,[4][11] it produces an ellipsoid-cylindric, non-beaked seed capsule, which is 2.5–3 cm long and 1.2-1.5 cm wide.[4] Inside the capsule, it has dark brown seeds with a small aril.[4]

Biochemistry[edit]

In 1989, a study was carried out on Iris japonica to find out the affects of Aphanomyces basal rot.[36]

In 1991, a study was carried out on the chemical composition from the rhizomes and roots of Belamcanda chinensis and Iris japonica. Three new iridals were found.[37]

In March 1996, a study was carried out on the chemical compostition of Iris japonica, it found new isoflavones, called irisjaponins A and B.[38]

In 2003, a study was carried out on the cells and chromosomes of Iris japonica and Iris confusa. It found out they are very closely related.[39]

In 2006, 13 species of Iris, including Iris japonica, Iris wattii and Iris subdichotoma were studied for a cytological analysis of the chromosome counts.[40]

In July 2008, a study was carried out on a population of Iris japonica on Jinyun Mountain in China.[41]

In 2008, a study was carried out on a virus affecting irises (Iris japonica and Iris bulleyana) in China.[42]

In 2009, a study was carried out on ten Iris species from China. Including Iris confusa, Iris japonica and Iris wattii. It was found that there was a similarity between Iris japonica and Iris wattii, but not with Iris confusa.[43]

In June 2010, a study was carried out on the root adaptability of Iris japonica in Chongqing, China.[44]

In 2011, a study was carried out on the growing conditions of Iris japonica, within forests of China and affects of different soil types.[45]

Tetra-hydroxy-6-methoxyisoflavone (or Irilin D (C17H14O7) was found in Iris japonica, Belamcanda chinensis (Iris domestica) and Iris bungei. Junipergenin B (Dalospinosin) can be found in the leaves of Juniperus macropoda and the roots of Iris japonica.[46]

As most irises are diploid, having two sets of chromosomes, this can be used to identify hybrids and classification of groupings.[13] It has been counted several times, 2n= Sinoto, 1921; 2n= Yasui, 1939; 2n=54, Kazuao, 1929; 2n=34,36, Simonet, 1932; 2n=36, Sharma & Tal., 1960; 2n=36 Kurosawa, 1971; 2n=31,33,54, Chimphamba, 1973; 2n=54, Mao & Xue, 1986; 2n=28,34,36,54, Colasante & Sauer, 1993; 2n=28, Dong et al. 1994; 2n=28 to 60 and Yen, Yang, & Waddick, 1995.[6] In Japan, it is a triploid plant (3n chromosomes) that does not produce seed and therefore can not be propagated by vegetative means (seed or division) while in China, it can also be diploid. This is the reason why the Japanese think that a triploid specimen was imported from China to Japan. Then over time, it has become naturalized.[3] Plants growing wild in Japan were counted as 2n=54 for infertile triploid forms. In China, wild forms are counted as 2n=36.[28]

It is normally published as 2n=24, 28, 34, 36, 54, 56.[4][22][26][27]

Taxonomy[edit]

Iris japonica illustration in Curtis Botanical Magazine, 1797

It has the common names of 'fringed iris',[11][12][15][25][26][30][35][47][48][49] or 'Shaga' (in Japan),[3][26][32][33][34][35][50][51] or 'Putchcock' (in Japan),[26][36] [52] and butterfly-flower (in China).[42][53][54]

Not to be confused with Dietes, commonly known as the Butterfly Iris.

It is written as 蝴蝶花 in Chinese script,[4] and known as hu die hua in Pidgin in China.[4][54] It is written as シ ャ ガ, 射干 in Japanese script.[3]

It is known as Fransiris in Swedish.[54] It is known as Gefranste Schwertlilie in German.[51]

The Latin specific epithet japonica refers to from Japan,[55] even though the plant is thought to originated in China.

It is pronounced as (Iris) EYE-ris (japonica) juh-PON-ih-kuh.[56]

Iris japonica was first named by Carl Peter Thunberg, (the Swedish botanist) in his 1784 publication, 'Flora Japonica'.[53] It was introduced to Europe in 1792 from China, by Thomas Evans of the East India Company.[11]

It was then first published and described by Thunberg in 'Transactions of the Linnean Society of London' (Trans. Linn. Soc. London) Volume 2 page327 on 1 May 1794.[4][6][11][57]

It was published in Curtis Botanical Magazine in 1797.[5]

The botanical artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté included a painting of this iris (known at that time as Iris fimbriata) in his 'Choix des plus belles Fleurs' (1827-1833) (translation: 'Selection of the most beautiful flowers'), a fitting tribute to such a beautiful plant.[11] Iris fimbriata was later classified as a synonym of Iris japonica.[1]

It has received an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS.[11][15]

It was verified by United States Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Service on 4 April 2003, then updated on 1 December 2004.[54]

Iris japonica is an accepted name by the RHS.[15]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Iris japonica growing in Osaka,Japan

It is native to temperate and tropical regions of Asia.[54]

Range[edit]

It is found in China,[3][5][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][17][18][19][21][22][26][27][28][30][53] within the Chinese provinces, of Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan,[22] Xizang, Yunnan and Zhejiang.[4][54]

It is found in Japan.[2][3][4][5][7][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][17][18][19][21][22][27][54][28][30][53]

It is found within Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.[26]

It is found within the tropical region of Asia, in Myanmar (Burma).[11][26][53][54]

In 2014, it was found in Mongolia.[58]

Habitat[edit]

It grows on forest margins,[4][9][10][11][12][14][18][26][28][31][35][49] in wet grasslands (or meadows),[4][9][11][12][14][28][31][49] among rocks by streams,[10][11][14][31] and along hillsides,[12][22][28] or rocky slopes.[10][11][14][26][31]

They can be found within bamboo forests and evergreen broad-leaved forest on Jinyun Mountain in China.[41]

They can be found at an altitude of 500 to 800 m (1,600 to 2,600 ft) above sea level in Japan,[49] and 2,400 to 3,400 m (7,900 to 11,200 ft) above sea level in China.[4][11][22]

Cultivation[edit]

Iris japonica growing in Fukushima, Japan

Iris japonica is very common in cultivation in USA,[2] it is the most commonly cultivated crested iris in the UK.[13][24]

It is hardy to between USDA Zone 7 to Zone 10.[9][12][30]

It is also hardy to European Zone H3.[17] It is very easy to grow in a Mediterranean climate,[2][19] in sheltered positions.[9]

Within UK, it is hardy in Devon and Cornwall,[5] and some other parts of southern UK.[7][20] It prefers the protection of a sheltered sunny wall.[20] Some cultivars of Iris japonica are more hardy than others.[7]

However, an extremely cold winter (or late frosts) may adversely affect the flowering of this species,[10][10][11][12][14][21][22] and the foliage becomes tatty,[24] or browned.[7]

It should be grown in well-drained soils,[2][7][9][10][12] but they do prefer moist soils.[12][13][33]

It can tolerate neutral or acidic soils (PH levels between 6.5 – 7.8).[10][56] It slightly prefers acidic soils (including peat banks).[10][24] It is not tolerant of salty water.[29]

It has average water needs during the growing season.[9][12][56] But wet or damp conditions during the winter may cause the root to rot.[9][12][22]

It can tolerate positions between full sun and partial shade,[2][10][12][14] but prefers partial shade.[3][9][13][32]

It can be grown in a mixed flower border,[12][24] or as a ground cover plant.[9][31]

It can be also grown in containers, in sheltered positions.[12][24]

In frost prone areas, it can be grown in a cool greenhouse.[5][11][22][24][30] The plants are rested in summer (after the spring flowering), and then started again in the late autumn.[7]

If it cannot be grown in a cool house, it should be given a sheltered position, with shrubs where it is protected from the morning sun.[7]

They are generally low-maintenance plants and are drought-tolerant once established.[12]

The stems and dead leaves should be removed after flowering to keep the plant tidy and help it, for next years growth.[12][24][59]

It does not have any serious disease or insect problems,[9] but pests (such as Thrips, slugs and snails), occasionally damage plants by feeding on the flowers or foliage.[12][22]

It can be susceptible to attack by Japanese Beetle.[47]

Deer and rabbits rarely cause any damage.[12]

It is found in specialized iris nurseries.[28]

A specimen can be seen in Christchurch Botanic Gardens in New Zealand,[49] and Nagai Botanical Garden in the City of Osaka, Japan.[3]

Propagation[edit]

It can also be propagated by division or by seed growing.[12][56] The seed is best sown in a cold frame, as soon as the capsules are ripe. Stored seed can also be sown in a cold frame in the Spring. Seedlings should be pricked out into small pots when large enough to handle. They are then grown for another year in a greenhouse or cold frame. The new plants then can be planted into the ground in late spring or early summer of the 3rd year.[31][56] Division is best carried out after flowering during July or August. Large clumps of plants can then be re-planted in new sites. Smaller clumps should be potted and grown in a cold frame until their have formed sufficient roots to survive, they then can be planted in the Spring.[31][56]

Hybrids and Cultivars[edit]

Iris japonica has many named cultivars.[22]

Including;

  • 'Acclaim' (red violet with blue shading),[60]
  • 'Accountable' (white with red-violet splashes),[60]
  • 'Aphrodite' (Creamy variegated leaves and white flowers Apr-Jun, 30 cm. Sun and shelter best),[61]
  • 'August Emperor' (red-violet with blue shading Hardy to Zone 3),[60]
  • 'Azure Perfection' (red-violet),[60]
  • 'Beni Tsubaki' (red-violet with white veining),[60]
  • 'Bourne Graceful' (1975, large frilly, flowers palest mauve, with deep violet spots around the yellow crests, the falls droop down, height 120 cm, bloom in May, flowers 6-7-5 cm across,[14] ),[13][29]
  • 'Capri Form' (crests with paler orange markings),[14]
  • 'Caprician Butterfly (white with blue-purple veining),[60]
  • 'Crystal Halo (red),[60]
  • 'Dalica',[6]
  • 'Eco Easter',(lavender-blue flowers, 30 cm tall),[62]
  • 'Evening Episode' (dark lavender-blue),[60]
  • 'Fairyland' (short spreading, white flowers, on upright stems, height 30 cm),[13][29]
  • 'Frilled Enchantment' (white with narrow rose edge),[60]
  • 'Japonica Aphrodite',[6]
  • 'Japonica Follis Variegata',[6]
  • 'Japonica Ledger',[6]
  • 'Kamayama',[6]
  • 'Ledger' (creeping ground-level stems, short fans of shining green leaves, thin branching stems, orchid-like small flowers, white, flat and frilled, touched with blue and orange. Needs a warm, sunny site to flower well. Early summer. 46 cm.),[63]
  • 'Ledgers Variety' (common in Europe,[14] hardier than the species,[8][18][24] height of 60 cm, white flowers marked with purple,[20] bloom April to late May),[13]
  • 'Mai Oji (blue with white veining),[60]
  • 'Marty Cohen' (Blue-rinse white flowers, purple-stained fans of foliage on longer branches than the species),[61]
  • 'Martyn Rix', 'Mist Falls' (lavender-blue with white sanding),[60]
  • 'Nada' (popular through the south of USA,where it can grow outside),[30]
  • 'Pallescens',[6]
  • 'Porcelain Maiden', (Spring, the evergreen patches are topped with 5 cm tall branching spikes, ending in lovely white flowers with a lavender blush just below the eyezone. 61 cm tall),[64]
  • 'Prairie Edge' (white with red-violet edges),[60]
  • 'Purple Heart' (leaves have dark purple bases, flower stems are also dark purple, flowers are white with deep purple spots on each fall height to 75 cm),[13] *'Raspberry Gem' (red),[60]
  • 'Rudolph Spring',[6]
  • 'Ruffled Dimitry' (dark blue veining),[60]
  • 'Sapphire Star' (a red and blue lavender),[60]
  • 'Skirt Chaser' (dark blue-purple with a yellow, white, and dark purple patterned eye zone, 46 cm tall),[65]
  • 'Snowy Hills (white),[60]
  • 'Summer Storm' (dark purple),[60]
  • 'Tenchong Lace' (purple stems and well-formed candelabra of blooms),[29]
  • 'Uwodu',[6]
  • 'Valley Blue',[6]
  • 'Variegata' (broad fans of dark-green sword-like leaves with a creamy-white, ivory or pale yellow variegation that typically runs down the edges of the leaves forming wide margins. It has small, very delicate and fringed, orchid-like flowers that are white with purple and orange markings, it does not flower very well,[23]),[17][22][24][53][61][66]
  • 'White Frills',[6]
  • 'White Panda',[6]
  • 'White Parachute (white),[60]
  • 'Wuhan Angel'.[6]

White-flowered forms collected from Zhejiang were named as Iris japonica f. pallescens by P. L. Chiu & Y. T. Zhao (in Y. T. Zhao, Acta Phytotax. Sin. 18: 58. 1980).[4] But these were later classified as a synonym of Iris japonica.[1]

Toxicity[edit]

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.[11][31][56]

Uses[edit]

It is listed in Encyclopedia of Traditional Chinese Medicines.[67]

In Japan, it is used as a source of starch. The rhizomes are ground up to access the starch.[22][31]

In China, it is used in herbal medicines, the rhizome is used to treat injuries.[11][22][31] Also a decoction, is used to treat bronchitis, internal injuries, rheumatism and swellings.[11][22][31]

Culture[edit]

They are also used in flower arrangements by the Chinese.[48]

In Japan, the iris was encouraged or planted on the tops of hills, within castles, the slippery fans of the iris leaves were used to slow marauding invaders to allow defending armies to protect the castle.[24]

Notes[edit]

See also Japanese iris.

References[edit]

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Other sources[edit]

  • Aldén, B., S. Ryman & M. Hjertson. 2009. Våra kulturväxters namn - ursprung och användning. Formas, Stockholm (Handbook on Swedish cultivated and utility plants, their names and origin).
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  • Waddick, J. W. & Zhao Yu-tang. 1992. Iris of China.

External links[edit]