Educational Article

About Species Iris

Lorena Reid has presented slides involving a number of species iris.  With the thought in mind that not all members may be familiar with them,  the following is a capsule description of the species and crosses she mentioned.


Location (s)

Bloom Height

Growing Characteristics

Flower Color

I. bulleyana

SW China


Likes acid soil and acid water; moist soil and plenty of humus are needed

Standards Blue to Violet;  Falls mottled and striped blue-violet over white

I. chrysographes

China & Burma


Two flowers per stem

Red-violet to Black with or without signal of gold lines

I. clarkei

Himalayan countries


Solid stems, often with multiple branches; erect foliage

Blue-violet with obvious signal—like a butterfly

I. delavayi

SW China


Wide foliage; late bloomer

Light to dark Blue-violet. White signal

I. dykesii

Found in Dykes’ garden after his death



Deep Violet. White signal. Yellow veins

I. forestii

China into N. Burma

14-30”  (Dwarf 6”)

Foliage shiny on top; bluish-green underneath

Yellow. Signal of dark lines and spots. Fragrant.

I. laevigata

Eastern Asia & Japan


Hybridized with I. versicolor.  Likes wet conditions, acid soil and direct sunlight.

Blue, Purple, White

I. pseudocorus

Europe across to the Middle East , down to North Africa


Largest plant Flourishes in wet conditions

Yellow, Cream, White

I. versicolor

Eastern US


Cross between I. virginica & I. setosa.  108 chromosomes. In the wild grow in wet conditions but adapts to dry locations.  Hybridized with I. virginica and Japanese iris

Blue, Violet, Pink, White

I. setosa  

Click on photo for a larger view

Eastern Asia Japan


Eastern Canada

(depends on subspecies)


Full sun and moist, rich soil

Hybridized with other species and Siberian iris

Blue, Purple, White

I. wilsonii



Glaucous foliage i.e. bluish-green appearance

Yellow with brown-veined signal; Fragrant

Contributed by Dwayne Booth for the KCIS Newsletter, November, 1999