Glossary of iris terminology. iris glossary and terminology. Ross Road Iris | Iris Rhizomes | Iris Bulbs

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AMERICAN IRIS SOCIETY Abbreviated AIS: an organization dedicated to iris since 1920. It is the keeper of iris registration records in the USA.

Mission statement: “The Mission of The American Iris Society is to organize and disseminate knowledge of the genus Iris, while fostering its preservation, enjoyment and continued development.”
AMOENA Standards are white, falls are colored (REVERSE AMOENA is the opposite) 
ANTHER Stiff, stem-like part of the stamen that contains the pollen.
ARILBRED IRIS Abbreviated AB: hybrid iris produced from crossing arils with the more common bearded iris. They usually bloom with the standard dwarf bearded iris (SDB) and the intermediate bearded iris (IB), earlier than the tall bearded iris (TB).
ARIL IRIS Bearded iris native to Turkey and Israel. Arils are named because of a flashy collar on one end of the seed known as arils.
BEARD or BEARDS At the base of each falls petal there is a line of fuzzy hairs called the beard. It can appear by itself or support an appendage or appendages such as a horn or a spoon or a flounce.
BEE POD An iris seed pod that has been pollinated naturally (not by a human hybridizer).
BICOLOR or BI-COLOR Description of the iris bloom when the standards are a different color from the falls.
BITONE or BI-TONE Description of the iris bloom when the standards and falls are different shades of the same color. The falls are generally darker than the standards.
BLEND Term used to describe the iris bloom when it combines two or more colors in a transition which can be smooth or uneven.
BORDER BEARDED IRIS Abbreviated BB: must consistently produce bloomstalks of 16" to 27.5". This is the same as the stalk height for the intermediate and miniature tall bearded irises. The features that distinguish this class from the other two are: First, Border Bearded irises should bloom along with the TBs. Second, blooms should be larger than those of the IBs or MTBs, but the width of the flowers should not exceed 5". The combined width and height of the flower, measured vertically from the highest point of the standards to the lowest point of the falls, should not exceed 22 cm or 8.5". In other words, flowers in excess of these measurements would likely resemble tall bearded blooms and would look out of place on a plant producing bloomstalks less than 27.5" in height. Border bearded irises should closely resemble the plant and flower habits of tall bearded irises, but should be reduced in size for proper balance. The leaves should be erect, in scale with and not obscuring the bloom. (Description from the AIS website)
BROKEN COLOR or BROKEN-COLOR Term used to describe the iris bloom when it combines two or more colors in a transition which can be smooth or uneven.
DIAMOND DUST or DIAMOND DUSTED A function of the top petal layer, causing a glittery, irridescent appearance.
DIPLOID A plant that has the usual two sets of chromosomes in each cell.
FALL or FALLS Abbreviated F: The lower three petals of the iris flower are called the falls.
FLOUNCE or FLOUNCES An appendage which may occur extending from the tip of the beard. It looks like ruffled petals protruding from the end of the beard.
GLACIATA A pale color from plicata breeding with no plicata marking.
HAFT or HAFTS Term used to describe the top, central part of the falls where they join the stem.
HALO or HALOED Occasionally refers to borders, indicating a different color on the petal edge. 
HEAVY LINES Much thicker than natural veins (3-4mm wide).
HORN or HORNS An appendage at the end of the beard that turns upward and is not connected to the petal.
HYBRID or HYBRIDS  A cross between two species, or between two hybrids, or between a hybrid and a species (usually all in the same genus as it's rare to have crosses between plants in different genera), Most hybrids are the result of intentional crosses made by people, but they do occur naturally. Hybrids with a very diverse genetic tree may be sterile.
INTERMEDIATE BEARDED IRIS Abbreviated IB: iris typically bloom intermediate between the SDB irises and the TB irises. They are plants with bloomstalks 16" to 27.5" in height, leaves substantially erect with stalks branched and preferably extending above the foliage far enough to display the blossoms without interference. Blooms should be 9 to 13 cm or 3.5 to 5 inches in width. This measurement is taken by measuring the distance between the tip of one fall to the tip of an adjacent fall.  (Description from the AIS website)
JAPANESE IRIS  Abbreviated JI: Japanese iris require a slightly acid soil and present some of the most spectacular flowers of all the irises. Blooms are usually huge, ruffled and flat in form; some are marbled with gray or white. They bloom about a month after the TBs. Japanese hybridizers have worked with them for over 500 years. (Description from the AIS website)
LOUISIANA IRIS Abbreviated LA: Louisianas Irises are a horticultural class of Iris that is equivalent to the botanical series  Hexagonae. They range across the US Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida and up the Mississippi River to Iowa. They are called Louisiana Irises because the large diversity present in that state. They can be grown almost anywhere in the United States and even into Canada provided a few easy requirements for cultivation are met. The blooms are usually very wide petaled and open, showing brightly colored style-arms and sharp signal-crests. Some of the most spectacular Iris flowers are in plants of this group. (Description from the AIS website)
LUMINATA Term used to describe an iris bloom where style arms and hafts are white or yellow when the rest of the flower is washed with color. Light or white veins on dark falls.
MEDIAN IRIS An iris in the following classifications: Border Bearded (BB), Intermediate Bearded (IB), Miniature Tall Bearded (MTB), or Standard Dwarf Bearded (SDB).
MIDRIB or MID-RIB The stiff mid-section of the standards that serves to support it's upright position.
MINIATURE DWARF BEARDED IRIS Abbreviated MDB: The smallest of the bearded iris class. To be in this class an iris must consistently produce plants that are no taller than 8 inches. They usually have small and dainty flowers that measure from 4.0 to 7.5 cm (1.6" - 3") wide. MDBs typically are the first bearded irises to bloom in the spring and also have little or no branching. I. pumila is the most important species in the background of modern MDB irises. (Description from the AIS website)
MINIATURE TALL BEARDED IRIS Abbreviated MTB: a separate class of bearded iris, also known as table irises , or bouquet irises that produce bloomstalks of 16" to 27.5" in height. However, MTBs are not simply very small flowered Tall Bearded irises. In all aspects of the plant, MTBs are far daintier. Blooms on MTBs should not be more than 15 cm or 6 inches in combined height and width. They are borne on slender, wiry, flexuous stalks 1/8" to 3/16" wide directly under the terminal flowers and increasing gradually to about 5/8" at the ground line. Although most MTBs bloom with the Tall Bearded irises, size and proportion, not the season of bloom, define the class. MTB blooms are very dainty, especially when compared to those of Border Bearded or Tall Bearded iris blooms. Their slender stalks and dainty blooms make them ideal subjects for use in arrangements where pleasing fragrance is especially important.  (Description from the AIS website)
NEGLECTA Term used to describe an iris that is a blue or purple bi-tone. Standards present with the lighter tone.
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.
PACIFIC COAST NATIVE Abbreviated PCN: Pacific Coast Natives, or Series Californicae (CA). They are difficult to grow in many places except for the far western area of the country in the native range. England and New Zealand have also had considerable success. In other areas their requirements can be exacting but when they are met, they grow most attractively with graceful and dainty flowers held one to two feet high, in most colors and patterns. (Description derived from the AIS website)
PANTONE Pantone color chart; a referenced color standard
PATTERN or PATTERNED Regular veining over much of the petals.
PEPPERING A plicata pattern of contrasting color that appears as if shaken from a pepper shaker onto a yellow or white background color.
PISTIL Term used to describe an iris that is a blue or purple bi-tone. Standards present with the lighter tone.
PLICATA Term used to describe an iris bloom that presents with stippled, dotted, stitched, peppered or banded color contrasting the base color
RADIATING  Veins that radiate from base to tip in a regular pattern that covers most of the petal.
REBLOOMER or REBLOOMING or REMONTANT Abbreviated RE: Term to describe an iris that has been known to bloom again subsequent to the normal spring bloom, usually in the late summer or fall. To say that an iris is a rebloomer is not to say that it will always rebloom, or even reliably rebloom. Some iris are known to be reliable rebloomers, but there are other variables, including climate zone and the weather patterns in any given season.
REVERSE AMOENA The reverse of the amoena, and more rare form of coloration: colored standards and white falls.
REVERSE BI-TONE  Describes a bi-tone where the standards are the darker shade.
RHIZOME Brownish, fleshy portion of the plant that grows at or just below the surface of the soil. (It is not a bulb.)
ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY  Abbreviated RHS: a referenced color standard
RUFFLES  A waving effect of iris petal edges. If there are ruffles they are often further descriped. For instance, there is fluting (a gentle, even ruffle), pie crust (regular fluting as on a pie crust), bubble ruffle (extreme and intense ruffling, often overlapping one another), stipple ruffle (precise), uneven ruffle (irregular), wavy ruffle (gentle as compared to extreme bubble ruffle), corrugated (precise as with stipple ruffle, but with large undulations).
SEEDLING Abbreviated SDLG:
SELF Term used to describe an iris bloom where the standards and the falls are the same color.
SIB  Sibling: often used in reference to indicate an un-registered seedling of a registered seedling from the same pod.
SIBERIAN IRIS Siberians perform best with cooler conditions, regular moisture and a slightly acid soil. The blooms can be blue, purple, red-violet or yellow with newer cultivars in brown and orange shades, and can have a variety of forms from upright to flat and round. They are most attractive in established clumps that develop a bouquet effect and grow to a height of 2 to 4 feet., although some dwarf varieties are also available. Their grass-like foliage after bloom is one of their attractive garden features. They tend to bloom slightly later than the TBs. (Description from the AIS website)
SIGNAL Term used to describe an area of contrasting color that may surround the beard, usually white or yellow.
SPACE AGE IRI or SPACE-AGE IRIS Iris with flounces, horns and/or spoons.
SPATHE The papery covering that surrounds the emerging buds. It turns brown and protects the ovary as it develops.
SPECIES Abbreviated SPEC: there is disagreement about the definition of a species among taxonomists because plants are continuously evolving and changing. Some hybrids stabilize and become true, and eventually are considered a separate species. In the iris world, I. germanica is one of these. It is thought to have been a hybrid cross between two other species, but it has become stable. Generally, though, a species is defined as a plant unaltered from how it occurs in the wild.
SPECIES HYBRID Abbreviated SPEC-X: Species Cross is a horticultural class for hybrids. Although this class was the last to be created it, represents Irises that are the earliest of their kind. Someday many of these crosses may go on to develop into classes that warrant their own category. All the hybrid classes such as tall-bearded, standard dwarfs had their beginnings in those first crosses between two species. Some crosses between species have been so rewarding they have been repeated creating substantial subgroups like Sino-Siberians and Calsibes. And when tetraploid forms of two different species are crossed fertile families are created such as the beginnings of the Standard Dwarfs. This is a class of experimentation and innovation that helps us learn about species and the possibilities for the future.  (Description from the AIS website)
SPOONS An appendage at the end of the beards, extending from the tips and appearing to be shaped like spoons.
STANDARD or STANDARDS The upper, erect three petals of the iris blooms.
STIGMATIC LIP A lip-like crescent unter the style crest that receives the pollen.
STAMEN The male reproductive structure of a flower consisting of a filament, and an anther containing the pollen grains.
STANDARD DWARF BEARDED IRIS Abbreviated SDB: iris 8 to 16 inches in height, Stems may be branched or unbranched, usually with two or more terminal buds. Blooms should be from 5 to 10 cm (up to, but not including, 4 inches) wide. To determine flower width, measure horizontally from the center of one fall to the center of an adjacent fall. Leaves should be essentially erect and no taller than the height of the bloomstalk. The SDB bloom season begins after the peak of the Miniature Dwarf Bearded irises and before the peak of the Intermediate irises. (Description from the AIS website)
STITCHING A pattern of marks running in the same direction as the veins of the falls and/or of the standards. The marks create a stitched appearance, and often form a visible rim at the bottom of the petals.
STIPLING A dotted, dashed, or peppered pattern in the petals.
STYLE ARM or STYLE ARMS The portion of the bloom extending above the beard, in the central, interior part of the bloom, above the anthers. They may be the same or contrasting color(s) to the flower.
STYLE CREST or STYLE CRESTS The flared end of the style arm; usually split into two projections and often serrated.
SUBSTANCE The thickness of the petals.
TALL BEARDED IRIS Abbreviated TB: iris must be over 27.5" in height with two or more branches and seven or more blossoms. Typically they bloom later than most of the smaller bearded irises. Most of the TBs produce stalks that significantly exceed the minimum height standard; many varieties producing stalks of at least 38" to 40". TB blooms should be considerably larger than those of the Border Bearded and Intermediate Bearded irises.  (Description from the AIS website)
TETRAPLOID Abbreviated tet: a plant that has double that number of chromosomes in each cell--that is four sets instead of two. Most modern bearded iris hybrids are tetraploid. Only the miniature tall bearded iris (MTB) are still primarily diploid. A tetraploid has thicker, wider, and heavier leaves and the flower parts are also thicker and larger. Color tends to be more pronounced.
TEXTURE  The finish of the petals.
VARIAGATA Term used to describe an iris bloom with yellow standards and red or violet fall color or veining.
WEBBING Dense veining that covers most of the petal, leaving a border of the base petal color.
WIRE EDGE A very small, minute, rim of color around the edges of the petals. Less than 1/8" or 33mm wide.