Iris Terms Glossary

Registration Terms
Height: The height of the stalk as designated by the hybridizer. (This can vary slightly depending on growing conditions and locale).
Hybridizer: The person who performs the cross fertilization that results in viable seeds, grows the seeds to maturity, and registers the plant with the American Iris Society (AIS) Registrar.
Name of iris: A name chosen by the hybridizer with the approval of the AIS Registrar.
RE: Indicates a Reblooming iris.
Year of Introduction: the year in which the iris was first publicly offered for sale.
Year of Registration: the year in which the hybridizer registers the iris with the AIS.
Bloom Time: Blooming period; in relation to the same type of iris.

Parts of the Iris Plant
Fan: One fan-shaped set of leaves per bearded iris rhizome.
Rhizome: A rhizome is a storage organ consisting of a more or less horizontal underground section of the plant from which roots grow.
Crown: The crown is the point where the fan of leaves attaches to the rhizome.
Increase: New plants that begin from buttons on the sides of the rhizome.
Stem: Also referred to as a Stalk; holds flowers up.
Branch: a branch off of the main flower stem.
Spur: a branch ending in a single bud.

Parts of the Iris Flower
Spathe: The papery covering surrounding emerging buds. It turns brown and protects the ovary as it develops.
Standards: The three upright petals of the iris flower.
Falls: The three lower petals of the iris flower that may either hang down or flare out.
Beard: The fuzzy ‘caterpillar’ from which bearded iris get their name. They are found at the base of the falls, tucked in towards the center of the flower. They are also found on the inside of the standards of some species of aril irises.
Haft: The hafts are the base of the falls and standards where they begin narrow near the center of the flower. In older cultivars and some species the hafts of the falls are often marked with veins and lines. Flowers so marked are sometimes referred to as being "hafty" and it is often considered a fault unless it pleasantly adds to the distinctiveness of the flower.
Pistil: The female reproductive structure of a flower which in iris consists of ovary, style-arms and stigma.
Ovary: The ovule-bearing part of the pistil at the base of the iris flower which develops after fertilization into the seedpod containing seeds derived from the ovules.
Styles: The part of the pistil that rises from the ovary and bares the stigma. In the iris, it branches into three flat arms, that may or may not be the same color as the petals.
Style Crest: The flared end of the style arm, usually split into two projections and often serrated.
Style Arm: Three style arms rest above the anthers; may be the same or contrasting colors as the iris flower.
Stigma: The part of the pistil that receives the pollen. In the iris, it is a lip projecting from the under side of the style arm, below the style crest.
Stamen: The. male reproductive structure of a flower consisting of a filament, and an anther containing the pollen grains. They rest between the style arms and the falls.
Anther: Stiff, fuzzy stem-like appendage holding pollen grains, located under the style arm.
Signal: On beardless irises there is often a signal consisting of a bright contrasting spot of a different color that replaces the beard.
Crest: Instead of a signal or a beard the crested or Evansia irises of the Lophiris section have a ridge or cockscomb of petal like material called a crest.
Spur: A short side stem that may or may not be near the top of the stigmatic lip.
Stigmatic Lip: The lip-like petal under the style crest which receives the pollen.
Space Age Iris: These irises have horns, spoons or flounces extending out from the end of the beard
Horned: Horned iris have petal extrusions below the beard that curve up and away from the fall to form a pointed horn.
Spoons: Spoons are long stringy filaments that extend out from below the end of the beard and are tipped by small, cupped petaloids.
Flounces: Iris with flounces have multi-petaled fan shaped appendages without beards that arise from the center of the fall.
Perianth Tube: The bases of the petals join together into a tube that surrounds the style and extends down to the ovary. Some species, such as Iris unguicularis, have very long perianth tubes that replace the stem and extend down to the ovary which is at ground level.

Flower, Style and Color Terms
Amoena: White, or tinted white standards, colored falls.
Bicolor: Standards have a different color than the Falls.
Bitone: two tones of the same color, the Standards having a different tone of the Falls’ color.
Blend: A mixed shading of two or more colors that occurs on the Standards, Falls, or both.
Fluting: Gentle dips and rises along the petal edges.
Glaciata: A pale color from plicata breeding- no plicata marking.
Halo: A rim of color around the petals.
Lace: Lightly laced petals have serrated edges; heavy lace gives a crinkled, serrated effect.
Luminata: Pale yellow or near white style arms with pale white or yellow veining on falls and a clear, unmarked area around the beards.
Neglecta: Blue standards with darker blue falls.
Peppering: A contrasting color dotted or sprayed over an iris with a yellow or white background color; generally found on plicatas.
Plicata (also plic): Stitched, stippled or banded color in contrast to the base color. Might also show peppering.
Reverse Amoena: Dark standards and white or pale tinted falls.
Ruffles: Vigorous or tight waving of the iris petal edges.
Self: Referent to an iris with all petals having the same color.
Stippled: Dotted, peppered or dashed.
Stitching: A dash-mark style pattern running in the same direction as the veins of the falls and/or standards. Often forms a visible rim around the petals.
Substance: The thickness of the petals.
Texture: The finish or sheen of the petals.
Variegata: yellow or near yellow standards with red or violet fall color or veining.
Wire-edge: A minute rim of color around the edges of the petals.

Botanical Terms
Taxonomy: The science of the classification of organisms. C. Linnaeus was the father of the binomial (two names) system we use for the naming of organisms. Each organism (in our case iris) is given two names. The first one is the genus and the second one the species. It is usually Latin and often descriptive such as Iris cristata, a crested iris. It may indicate where the plant originated as in Iris cretensis from Crete or it might be a Latinized name to honor someone such as Iris forrestii to honor the plant explorer George Forrest.

The definition of species is difficult because taxonomists don't always agree. All plants are continuously evolving and changing; some become extinct and some hybrids stabilize and breed true and in time are considered separate species. I. germanica is one of these, it was probably originally a hybrid between two other species but it is stable and sets some seed. (Gardeners definition) A species is a plant unaltered from the way it was growing in the wild.

Genus: Plural: genera.
A genus is the next higher division in botanical nomenclature from a species. A group of species with similar characteristics comprises a genus. The genus Iris includes several further subdivisions (subgenus, section, subsection, series, subspecies) consisting of several hundred species, all in the northern hemisphere.

A Family is a natural group of closely related genera. The next higher division above genus. The genus Iris belongs to the family Iridaceae which contains about one hundred genera including such things as Crocus, Gladiolus, Sisyrinchium, Schizostylus, and the southern hemisphere counterparts of Iris, the genera Moraea, Dietes and Cypella.

Hybrids are crosses between two species, between two hybrids or between a hybrid and a species, usually all in the same genus; rarely do crosses between plants in different genera occur. In plants it usually refers to crosses between genetically different parents. Most hybrids are the result of man’s deliberate crosses, but hybrids also occur in the wild more commonly than was formerly realized. Many of our more common garden plants are hybrids. Being a hybrid between two genetically different clones often gives plants extra strength; this is known as "hybrid vigor". Hybrids are usually somewhat intermediate between their parents in their characteristics and if their parents are widely diverse they may be sterile.

A clone is a plant raised from a single seed. To still be considered a single clone it must be propagated vegetatively (by division or tissue culture, not seed). It may be divided thousands of times and be distributed all over the world but if done vegetatively the plants will all be identical genetically and still be the same clone. Plants raised from seed of a clone will be different genetically from the parent clone and will each be different clones. The registered named iris we grow are each separate clones each raised from a single seed and then propagated vegetatively.

Chromosome: The World of Irises defines chromosome as the dark-staining body in the cell nucleus bearing genes in a linear order. The number of chromosomes is usually constant for the species or variety. Even the beginning gardener needs a rough understanding of this term. In most living things there are two sets of chromosomes in each cell. During reproduction the cells each divide and combine in such a manner that the offspring receive one set of chromosomes from parent. The number of chromosomes in iris is important to the hybridizer as an indicator as to whether a cross is possible or not. However there are many hybrids in which the chromosome counts of the parents are different, particularly in the bearded irises. In Siberian irises we refer to chromosome counts regularly. No one has found good descriptive common names for the two types of Siberian irises so we usually refer to them as the 40 chromosome Siberians and the 28 chromosome Siberians or often shorten this to the 40's and the 28's.

Diploid: A diploid is a plant having the usual two sets of chromosomes in each cell.

Tetraploid: An iris that is tetraploid has double the number of chromosomes, that is four sets instead of two. Almost all of our modem bearded hybrids are tetraploid, only the MTB's are still largely diploid. An iris that is tetraploid has thicker wider heavier leaves, the flower parts are thicker and larger and because the petals are thicker the color is often deeper and brighter. The plant is not usually much taller but is stiffer and wider.