Iris ruthenica

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

Iris ruthenica
Iris ruthenica - Fleurs-3.jpg
Scientific classification
Iris ruthenica
Binomial name
Iris ruthenica
  • Iris alpina Pall. ex Roem. & Schult.
  • Iris caespitosa Pall. ex Link
  • Iris humilis Schur [Illegitimate]
  • Iris nana (Maxim.) Nakai [Illegitimate]
  • Iris ruthenica f. leucantha Y.T.Zhao
  • Iris ruthenica var. nana Maxim.
  • Iris ruthenica subsp. ruthenica (unknown)
  • Iris ruthenica var. ruthenica (unknown)
  • Iris ruthenica var. uniglumis Spach
  • Iris verna Pall. [Illegitimate]
  • Joniris ruthenica (Ker Gawl.) Klatt
  • Limniris ruthenica (Ker Gawl.) Fuss
  • Xiphion ruthenicum (Ker Gawl.) Alef. [1]

Iris ruthenica, sometimes called ever blooming iris (in the UK), Russian iris, pilgrim iris and Hungarian iris (in Europe), is a species in the genus Iris- subgenus Limniris. It is a rhizomatous perennial, with a wide distribution, ranging from eastern Europe to Central Asia. It has grass-like leaves, thick stem and violet or bluish lavender flowers which are marked with violet veining.


Iris ruthenica is very variable and hybrids can look very similar to Iris uniflora.[2] The other species in the Iris series Ruthenicae. It can be variable with its leaf length and width, and flower height.[3]

It has a creeping rhizome,[4][5][6] (about 3-5 mm in diameter) which is branched and has fibrous roots.[2] The creeping rhizome forms a clump or a grass-like tuft plant.[3][7][8]

It has bright green leaves,[6][7][8] or greyish green leaves.[2][5] That are tall and thin, and grass-like,[3][9][10] measuring between 10 – 40 cm (8–13 in) long and 2 – 6 mm wide.[2][3][7] The leaves can grow longer than the flower stem.[9]

The plant (stem and flowers) grows to a height of between 3–20 cm [4][11][2] (12 in).[8]

The thick stem is 2–3 cm wide,[9] can grow to heights of between 3–20 cm.[2][4][10] It has the remains of last years leaves at the base of the stem.[9]

It blooms in spring,[12] (between May, June and July in the UK),[8][11] or early to mid summer,[3] with one normally, but occasionally 2 fragrant flowers.[2][3][13]

The large flowers are between 3–5 cm in diameter,[2][3][7] with a cylindrical,[9] perianth tube measuring 0.5–1.5 cm long.[2][6] The flowers come in a range of blue shades between violet [2][3][11] and bluish lavender.[3][4][13] Which are marked with violet veining.[3][5][8] 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'.[14] The falls (measuring 4.5–5 cm) are white.[6][8][13] The standards (measuring 4–6 cm) are almost erect.[2][7][6] The bracts (measuring 3–5 cm ) are greenish with pink margins,[6] violet blue stigma,[12] and milky white anthers.[2]

It has a globose (globe-like) to ovoid shaped seed capsule (measuring 1.2—1.5 cm) in June–August (after the flowering period is over).[2][9][15] Once they are ripe, the seed capsules fully open and all the seeds are dispersed in one movement. Unlike other iris species.[15] The seeds are pyriform (pear-shaped) and have an aril (white appendage on the edge of the seed).[2][7] The aril disappears soon after and shrivels up.[15]


As most irises are diploid, having two sets of chromosomes. Which can be used to identify hybrids and classification of groupings.[14] It has a chromosome count: 2n=84 [2][11][16] (found by Simonet in 1934).[17]


Russian iris or Hungarian iris

It is written as 紫苞鸢尾 in Chinese script,[18] and known as 'zi bao yuan wei'.[2]

It is named after the region of the 'Ruthenia', in Transylvania and Romania,[15]

It has several common names; 'ever blooming iris' (in the UK),[19][20] 'Russian Iris',[7][12][21] 'pilgrim iris' (sometimes called a synonym of Iris ruthenica),[17][22] and 'Hungarian Iris' in Europe.[10]

It is known as ungersk iris in Sweden.[23]

Iris ruthenica was first published by John Bellenden Ker Gawler in Botanical Magazine in 1808.[23][24] It was later published in 1811, as Iris ruthenica with the common name 'Pigmy iris' in Curtis's Botanical Magazine, vol. 34, table 1393.[17] Pigmy iris is now used as the common name of Iris pumila.

It was mentioned the journals of Captain Beechy's Voyage (in 1825),[25] and is mentioned in Cherepanov's Vascular Plants of Russia.[26]

It was verified by United States Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Service on 42 October 2014,[23] and is an accepted name by the RHS.[20]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Iris ruthenica, from Jardin des Plantes in Paris

Iris ruthenica is native to a wide region, including temperate Asia and Europe.[23]


It is found in southern Russia and Siberia,[4][12][9] through Central Asia,[27] (including Altai Mountains and Turkestan,[15] on the Tien Shen mountain range,[4] Kazakhstan and Mongolia),[28] to China and Korea.[2][3][6] Within Europe, it is found in Romania.[23]

It is listed with Iris bloudowii, Iris humilis, Iris lactea, Iris sibirica, Iris tenuifolia and Iris tigridia as being found in the Altai-Sayan region (where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan come together).[29]


It is found on dry meadows (including grass plains and steppes), pine and birch forest edges and edges of woodland.[3][4][8] It can also be found in forest clearings in the forest-meadow mountain belt. Forming a thicket ground-cover.[4]

In Mongolia it is found under Pinus sylvestris/Betula platyphylla subtaiga forests, in montane meadow steppes with Festuca lenensis and Artemisia sericea and in Pinus sibirica/Picea obovata dark taiga forests (within the upper montane belt with Rubus saxatilis and Lathyrus humilis).[30]

Elsewhere in Eurasia, it is found in the Larch forests of Altai and Sayan mountains including Tuva).[31]

It is also found in Tuvan Forests as a subcanopy woody species.[32]

On the Altai Mountains, it is found with other mountain flowers including Siberian Dogs-tooth Violet (Erythronium krylovii), Altai Foxtail Lily (Eremurus), a variety of saxifrages, Aquilegia, Gentiana grandiflora, Papaver nudicaule and the yellow Iris bloudowii.[28]

At altitudes of between 1800 and 3600m.[2][3]


Close up of the flower of Iris ruthenica

It is hardy to USDA Zone 2,[7] or Zone 3.[5]

Iris ruthenica does not flower very well in the UK.[13] It is best cultivated in fertile soils that do not dry out.[12][15] It is best suited for Rock Gardens or at the front of a flower border.[12][13][14] Although sinks or troughs could be used.[13] It also grows well on dry peat banks.[33] It is tolerant of semi-shade, but prefers full sun.[7][5][13]

Unlike many other irises, it can only be moved with success, during the spring and summer when it is in full growth.[10][13][15]

Iris ruthenica is grown in several Russian botanical gardens including, Barnaul, Ivanovo, Irkutsk, Kirov, Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, St. Petersburg, Stavropol, Tomsk, Omsk, Novosibirsk and Chita.[4]


It can be propagated by division or by seed.[5][15] The seeds should be sown in the autumn and the rhizomes divided in early spring.[4] The seeds germinate fairly quickly and new plants are easily raised.[15] But the young plants must not dry out.[10] The old and damaged rhizomes should be removed before replanting.[5]

Hybrids and cultivars[edit]

Iris ruthenica var. nana was once thought to be a smaller variety of Iris ruthenica.[17][34] but this is now considered a synonym.[1]

Although, Iris ruthenica var. brevituba which has a small perianth tube,[2] and violet flowers,[35] it is also now considered a variant.[36]

Iris ruthenica has the following known cultivars;


  1. ^ a b "Iris ruthenica Ker Gawl. is an accepted name". 23 March 2012. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "FOC Vol. 24 Page 303". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Iris ruthenica". Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Alekseeva, Nina (2007). "Iris ruthenia". Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Owen, Toni. "The Differences Between Iris Reticulata & Ruthenica". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees and H. Suzanne Cubey (Editors) The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification, p. 251, at Google Books
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Iris ruthenica". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Austin, Claire. "Irises A Garden Encyclopedia" (PDF). pp. 274–275, 287. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Komarov, V.L. (1935). "Akademiya Nauk SSSR (FLORA of the U.S.S.R.) Vol. IV". Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d e "Iris ruthenica". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  11. ^ a b c d Kramb, D. (10 November 2003). "Iris ruthenica". (Species Iris Group of North America). Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  12. ^ a b c d e f William Robinson Hardy Flowers , p. 152, at Google Books
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Cassidy, George E.; Linnegar, Sidney (1987). Growing Irises (Revised ed.). Bromley: Christopher Helm. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-88192-089-5.
  14. ^ a b c Austin, Claire. "Irises A Garden Encyclopedia" (PDF). pp. 274–275. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dykes, William (2009). "Handbook of Garden Irises" (PDF). (The Group for Beardless Irises). Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  16. ^ Karol Marhold (ed.). "IAPT/IOPB chromosome data 9" (PDF). Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Laurin, Terry (10 January 2014). "(SPEC) Iris ruthenica Ker-Gawl". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  18. ^ "Iris ruthenica". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  19. ^ "page 68". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  20. ^ a b "Ever blooming Iris". (Royal Horticultural Society). Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  21. ^ Aleksandr Leonidovich Kovalevsk (Editor)Biogeochemical Exploration for Mineral Deposits, p. 70, at Google Books
  22. ^ Elizabeth Lawrence A Rock Garden in the South , p. 76, at Google Books
  23. ^ a b c d e "Iris ruthenica". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  24. ^ Barker, C; Govaerts, R. "Iris ruthenica Ker Gawl., Bot. Mag. 28: t. 1123 (1808)". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  25. ^ William Jackson Hooker The Botany of Captain Beechy's Voyage, p. 396, at Google Books
  26. ^ Sergeĭ Kirillovich Cherepanov Vascular Plants of Russia and Adjacent States (the Former USSR) , p. 280, at Google Books
  27. ^ Mark V Lomolino, Dov F. Sax and James H Brown (editors)Foundations of Biogeography : Classic Papers with Commentaries Parts 1–4, p. 475, at Google Books
  28. ^ a b "THE ALTAI, CENTRAL ASIA'S GOLDEN MOUNTAINS". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  29. ^ "Biodiversity of Altai-Sayan Ecoregion". Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  30. ^ Dalamsuren, Choimaa; Hauck, Markus; Muhlenberg, Michael (7 January 2005). "Vegetation at the Taige forst steppe borderline in Western Khentey Mountains, Northern Mongolia" (PDF). (Finnish Zoological and Botanical Publishing Board). p. 415. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  31. ^ Folke Andersson (editor) Coniferous Forests , p. 72-73, at Google Books
  32. ^ Ivanova1, G. A.; Ivanov, V. A.; Kukavskaya, E. A.; Soja, A. J. (27 January 2010). "The frequency of forest fires in Scots pine stands of Tuva, Russia". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  33. ^ Stebbings, Geoff (1997). The Gardener's Guide to Growing Irises. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. p. 18. ISBN 978-0715305393.
  34. ^ "Iris ruthenica var nana". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  35. ^ "Iris ruthenica - Ris Ruthenia, Iris Belarusian". Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  36. ^ "Iris ruthenica subsp. brevituba (Maxim.) Doronkin is an accepted name". 23 March 2012. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  37. ^ a b "RE: Iris runthenic". 30 May 2010. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  38. ^ "IRIS PHOTO GALLERY". Retrieved 6 November 2014.


  • 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).
  • Czerepanov, S. K. 1995. Vascular plants of Russia and adjacent states (the former USSR).
  • Khassanov, F. O. & N. Rakhimova. 2012. Taxonomic revision of the genus Iris L. (Iridaceae Juss.) for the flora of Central Asia. Stapfia 97:175.
  • Komarov, V. L. et al., eds. 1934–1964. Flora SSSR.
  • Mathew, B. 1981. The Iris. 83.
  • Tutin, T. G. et al., eds. 1964–1980. Flora europaea.
  • Waddick, J. W. & Zhao Yu-tang. 1992. Iris of China.

External links[edit]