Monday, May 4, 2009

Iris Plicata and the Latin Term 'Plicata'

From In the Garden

I have always loved irises, though never so much as when I moved to Tennessee. Did you know the iris is the Tennessee state flower? Who isn't familiar with these tall purple irises found just about anywhere you look in Tennessee? I have so many varieties I have lost track and really don't know them all, but I did happen upon some interesting information about irises I thought I'd share.

I picked up a tall bearded iris 'Change of Pace' at a bargain price at Lowe's in December. While researching it I found a website that listed the botanical name as
Iris plicata. I don't know about you, but I had never heard of this kind of iris before, so I thought I would further investigate.

Running across another website featuring Redoute's botanical prints I also found a blurb about plicata.

“Plicata” is a descriptive term for irises that have patterns of stitched, stippled or banded colors contrasting with the base color.

To verify this meaning of a specific epithet since I was still not convinced of its validity, I investigated further. Checking this website called Dictionary of Botanical Epithets, I have found the definition of plicata as listed there is: 'to fold up', or 'pleated'. Hmmmm. It does not list 'stippled' or 'banded' or 'stitched' as is described above.

I thought this most interesting. Even though the dictionary says the meaning of plicata is to fold up, isn't the other definition a perfect epithet for the pictured iris? It is stippled for sure.

The world of gardening is amazing and if I lived a 100 lives I would still not know all I wish to know about gardening. But adding the word plicata to my knowledge bank helps out a bit; even if I find conflicting information on it.

For the record, the iris pictured above is NOT 'Change of Pace'. That particular iris has not bloomed yet this year. The pictured iris is one I purchased from a fellow Perennial Plant Society member. I had the name of it at one time, but have since lost it. The color came true in the photo, so maybe someone out there recognizes this iris? If so, do let me know what you think it is.

Just look at another iris I have growing in my garden. Anyone know this one? I received this from a fellow Freecycler in Evansville, Indiana. She loves her irises and daylilies and I think this one pretty special. What do you suppose the specific epithet for this one would be? Iris striatus??

I think I'll just rest my brain and not think too awfully hard about specific epithets. Plicata, Siberian, whatever. I guess maybe what is important is that the flowers look good, but I still would like to figure out all these Latin names! What do you think of them?

for now I'm in the IS iris time in Tennessee!


  1. Hello Tina .. I'm sorry I don't know enough about the disection of each descriptive name .. I think it would make my head explode figuring it all out quite frankly ? LOL
    But .. that is an iris I haven't seen before and it is an eye catcher for sure .. it reminds me of the Netherlands .. Delft pottery .. that blue and white theme ? : )

  2. I don't know enough about the iris either. They are just so pretty, all of them. Can't have enough of them.

  3. Hi Tina, boy, if I want research done, you would be my go to gal! What dedication and persistance! Way to go! I do believe your last shot might be Batik, Semi has one of those and it is a faithful bloomer, one of the earlier ones too. I don't know the first one, but have seen similar ones, may have even had one once upon a time from my dear neighbors. I look forward to seeing a folded iris, however. :-)

  4. Joy, Delft pottery-now that I have to remember. Love the blue and white for sure. Hope you are feeling better.

    Dawn, I have too many! Want some? They are so nice in bloom though.

    Frances, Batik it is. I am going to research that one. This lady has so many unusual ones. I need to go visit here this week. I am SO sorry about Mae. I was just thinking of them recently. My very best wishes for Mickey and the community and you!

  5. Seeing all the iris at the Arboretum the other day made me want to get some different varieties. I wish the iris had been tagged--most things are, but they were not. One was a beautiful burgandy and smelled devine. I intened to look for some this fall.
    Have a great day Tina!

  6. Linda, You have a great day too! I will be out in the garden (I hope!)

  7. Beautiful Tina! I miss irises! They need more sun than we have here. I just moved a couple of Siberian Iris this spring - Caesar's Brother. After five years they still haven't bloomed. I hope they will in their new, slightly sunnier spot. They take some time to get established, and I doubt I'll see blooms this year either.

  8. Good morning Tina! I bookmarked the second link you posted, of course. Great resource. I LOVE both of those Iris you pictured today. My color is definately purple...those two are gorgeous!!

  9. Hi Tina, I too love iris (and I didn't know it was the state flower of TN!). I have the really early dwarf kind, early bearded kind (blooming now, shorter), normal bearded (will bloom in about a month, taller), variegated-leaf bearded, and Siberian. I got all of them as divisions from others and don't know any of their names, but that's OK! :) Happy Monday.

  10. Hi Tina and a good morning to you! Just show me a purple iris, any shade, striatus, polkadotis, plainis and I would love it! I think Batik is a perfect name for the last iris. I have a very early blooming (with the cristata iris) deep purple-blue iris that I love. No fragrance, but delightful. Any suggestions where to go to see if I can ID the iris? gail
    ps I didn't even think about going to Growild, the rain was fierce. Do you think the PPS tours may be rescheduled?

  11. You little reseacher you! Interesting, lovely blooms....just wish mine would show up!

  12. "By any other name..." your irises would still be beautiful! All my irises are passalongs, so I'd be happy just to know their common names. Last year was the first time they bloomed, so I'm hoping for more this year.

  13. Hi Tina,
    Your purple plicata doesn't look like Jesse's Song to me -- the color looks too deep and the stripe around the falls too wide -- Whatever it is it's beautiful!

    I agree with Frances, the striped iris looks like Batik. It's beautiful too!

  14. Hi Tina --love the coloring. My yellow iris bloomed like crazy --or should I say are blooming like crazy now but the ones my mom gave me (bulbs) have only grown up and green but no flowers yet:( I put them in last fall -maybe they just need time to get established. Have fun in the yard --it would be a great day to pull weeds with the ground all soggy but I'm not so sure I want to take new bundle out there --I'll have to see how warm it gets --he likes his walks but I don't know if he'd sit still while I worked:) Ciao

  15. Hi Tina, I love 'em too but the bloom time is so short. Your 'striatus' looks like Gnus Flash but that one is tan with black. I thought I bought GF last year but mine was misnamed.

  16. We've got irises up all over too. Although after all this rain they look quite battered. There are many other buds coming on them so we should still get some nice flowers. Tomorrow appears to be a dry day, let's hope so!

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  18. Latin/Botanical names are good for one thing in my opinion: identifying the plant so that you can purchase an exact variety or cultivar. I'm a garden writer and still struggle with Latin names, and especially pronunciations. I think it's cool to hear a knowledgeable gardener discuss his or her garden using the Latin name for the plants. Irises are not quite ready here, but they will be soon. The bearded variety are my favorites. I have some close to the edge of the main highway at the end of my driveway that are neglected, abused, hit with salt spray during winter, covered over with gravel and then raked, and they've always rebounded. That's what I call a tough-as-nails plant!

  19. I had no idea it was the state flower. I don't think I had heard of this type of iris either. Both iris' you show are very pretty. I think I'm going to add some more to my garden. I'm hoping the ones my sister gave me will bloom this year.

  20. I love the last one and I am not the iris lover that you are but that one is just marvelous. Too bad my friend Dr. Currier McEwen was still alive as I am sure he could id both. Since he developed and registered over 150 diffetent types his self, I know he could and he was such a sweetheart, I would have called him and asked him to take a look at it and I know he would have been happy to do it. I know you knew all about him but did you also know he registered around 50 different day lilies?

    FRANCES, over the past we have heard you speak of Mickey and Mae many times and you had said a while back that things were not going so well with them and from what Tina said I guess Mae must have passed on. I am really so sorry for you but am very glad you have so many pass along plants from her. May they be a great comfort to you and a good rememberance of Mae for you for many years to come.

  21. I'm not much on Latin names. I am not a "scientific" kinda gal. I like names, names that 99% of people recognize. Even though I do know alot of scientific names...I don't refer to them. It is just easier. When someone asks "what is that plant" it is easier to say and angel trumpet vs a brugmansia and see the confusion on their face

  22. Gorgeous! I love Iris too! I've got a few in my yard, but they are about 3 weeks away from blooming. Can't wait! --Jackie

  23. Linda, Keep your fingers crossed on the Siberian irises. I just noticed buds on mine-too exciting, so there may be hope, I think it is early.

    Janet, Thanks! I surely love the unusual and these are fairly new to the garden. Glad you like them too. If I get too many I might start packaging them off and sending them to all my blogging friends:) Warning!

    Monica, I LOVE the standard dwarf bearded iris-more so than the tall bearded irises. Have you posted on yours? I'd love to see them. I have a few and had no idea what they were until fairly recently. Way cool.

    Gail, Not sure a good resource since there are SO many online. I usually find a good picture gallery and thumb thru them. Takes lots of time though. These and daylilies are hard to id since so many varieties. I did not go on the tours and WAS SO disappointed. I am glad I made the right decision. I was thinking they may cancel them. I hope they are rescheduled. I may email and ask. It was a bad weekend for sure. So I also never made it to GroWild. What a bummer as so much was planned. Tomorrow is supposed to dry. Yeah!

    Darla, Give it time. Yup, a bit of a researcher but still research is only as good as the interpreter-I should add a disclaimer one of these days.

    Rose, Yes indeed! Love that saying. I bet you'll get triple the blooms you had last year. I have sold some of my irises but may have to resort to giving them away-you'll be in that position before you know it.

    Sweet Bay, I was afraid of that. I really have to find that list as now all of sudden I'm interested in names. Go figure. Batik is a very good name.

    Anonymous, It has been a bit chilly. Keep that bundle close and give it time. Plenty of time later for weed pulling-better yet get the kiddos out there! Make it fun. I love yellow irises! Those and pink are my favorites right now. Have a great day-still wet:(

    Marnie, I remember that post. I hate it when things are mislabeled. I have a dogwood blooming I bought from Don Shadows-mislabeled for sure. But sometimes surprises are nice. I loved the one you did get.

    TC, Now that speaks volumes about irises! I did not know they were so salt tolerant, but they would have to be to grow so well up north. It is true about Latin names. I like to know them to pass them along to others and to buy more myself. They can be frustrating at times.

    Catherine, They are surely great-small period of bloom but with so many buds you have lots of color. I hope your irises bloom too. The first one I have pictured has taken two full years to finally bloom.

    Mom, Yes! That would be so neat. One of these days I will be in Maine to tour his gardens during iris time. I knew he also propagated daylilies. I was very excited to read about him in Horticulture and to know he lived in my home report. Very sad about Frances' neighbor indeed.

    DP, You are the kind of gardener most are-and the kind most like to talk with. I on the other hand am a Latin name nut and I think I drive all my garden club buddies nuts by using them. You should see the cross eyes when I say "Brugmansia". Ha! Funny! I should save my breath and say Angel Trumpets too.

    Jackie, Three weeks will fly and I'll be looking for them. Glad hubby is okay. My son had the same thing and it got infected. Bad thing indeed. He's okay though (for a teenager!)

  24. I have been catching up on past issues of newspapers today! Arg, I am slowly getting caught up on everything. Rain today so a good day for paper reading.

    Ah, I love the Tennessee iris even though I dont have any in my GA garden. I dont think they do so well down here as I dont see many of them. The ones I do see are the ones I remember from my childhood home and grandmothers house being the bearded Purple Iris. I have a stained glass iris and also the Mocking bird as they are both TN State favorites. If the daffys and tulips return next spring, i may add iris to my garden and see what happens. Sorry you missed the garden tour, I was wondering if the rain damped the event. Sigh, also sorry to hear about Frances dear neighbor :( …

  25. I learned a lot about iris from this post and comments, including this new-to-me species, plicata. Following in your footsteps, I went to my trusty OED and looked it up. Plicare, the Latin root, means to pleat or fold, so the Dictionary of Bot Epithets did you well. The stippling and so on have probably evolved from the original meaning, it's interesting how words do that.

    Anonymous, bulbous irises are different from the ones with rhizomes. Yours are most likely one of the kinds that blooms in early summer.

    1. I was taught by a very experienced master gardener that the area at the top of the fall is the plicita. It really does look like a pleat on each side of the beard. On some iris that is the only way I can tell one from the other if I have lost their tags. I love them all and like to call them by name, just like family pets. My friends think I'm nuts. Spring is an exciting time if you're an iris fancier. Nothing better til the daylilies start blooming.

    2. I was taught by a very experienced master gardener that the area at the top of the falls on either side of the beard is the plicita. It actually looks like a pleat. If it is stipppled or banded that's a whole different description. Here in Texas iris have been blooming for about a month depending on the variety. It's a great time of the year only eclipsed by the daylilies. I have named varieties and like to call them by name. Each year I lose a tag and have to dig out the pictures and identify the blooms.

  26. Whatever the exact names may be, your irises are breath-taking! and i'm glad I know what 'plicata' means!

  27. My irises don't seem to want to bloom for me. I don't know what I am doing wrong. I had one yellow one and then a cold snap. Poof, it was gone.

  28. Great state flower Tina. Ours is the columbine which I like as well. I've decided you are about one month ahead of us because our iris bloom the end of May/first of June. The blue & white pattern does remind me of delft china too (I think Joy said that). It's gorgeous. Most of mine are solid colors but I really like the mixture and splotching. I may have to add to my collection now...

  29. Skeeter, I know the feeling. Hate trying to catch up on reading, it takes so much time but can be interesting. Bearded irises should grow down there-note I said should. If your bulbs return great! But even if they don't and you wish to give irises a try, just come visit me and I'll hook you up!

    Pomona, It is so neat how language evolves. Most of the Latin words do line up-but not the plicata. A big change. I was glad I checked further into the meaning. This sure is not a folded iris:)

    Kanak, So glad you like them. You grow them over there? I don't remember seeing them in Germany, but surely in France and England? So India too?

    Brenda, Hang tough. Sometimes it takes a year or two to get irises going. Did you plant them last year or so? Maybe next year for them. Or, maybe try another cultivar too. I hope you get some!

    Kathleen, Colombine is a great flower! I like them very much too. They must be everywhere there. That striped iris was quite a shock to me. I had no idea as my friend gave me several not even in bud. She liked them very much and said they were unique-I'd have to agree! You have some really neat plants in your garden even with irises-I like them all.

  30. Thanks Pomona --you may have something with that --now why didn't I think of that? ;0) Another cool wet day here but soon the warm days of summer will be here to stay.

    Tina --little bundle didn't pull weeds with me today:0) He will have his chance all summer when it isn't cool and drizzly.

  31. Tina, It just dawned on me, ha! A fleeting moment of remembering iris folding patterns with paper, could it be an iris with the appearance of folded when looking down on it from above? Maybe this iris has to have both characteristics to be called plicata?

  32. I like Irises - so delicate looking. I have 3 Siberians that I especially love although my neighbor use to have some gorgeous bearded ones she ordered at $50 a wack! Ouch! I'm happy with my newest mauve Siberian.
    Another learning experience here in the garden with Tina. ;-)

  33. I love how they used the latin terms to describe the blooms. Iris time is one of my favorite seasons. Mine are all starting to do their thing right now too. Wish I could help you with the id on yours, but they are gorgeous regardless. :)

  34. Anonymous, Cold for sure. Plenty of time later. I bet he is growing like crazy!

    Dawn, Yes! Perhaps that is it as irises do look folded and the two upper petals do fold in. Ah ha! I bet you are right.

    Linda, Siberians are new to me so I am looking forward to seeing yours. Up til like last year I thought there were only bearded irises. Funny huh?

    Racquel, Yup, iris time is a lovely time of the season. Next comes peony time! I guess we could go on and on and isn't it great?

    Frances and Sweet Bay, I believe you two are correct on Batik. It was the first iris to bloom this season and that is one of the description. I am very excited to have it identified. The other we'll just call 'plicata' maybe.

  35. Good info! I love iris but know absolutely nothing about them. They are quite regal when they bloom and I learned you just can't kill them. That speaks volumes in my garden.

  36. It's been too many years since I've had irises in my yard. Now that we have some reblooming bearded iris available in our local nurseries--and they really do bloom all through the year--I guess I don't have much excuse to not to try making room for some...

  37. I never knew that irises were the state flower. How great! They are very gorgeous.

    The latin names are very confusing. But the color is beautiful.

  38. Just loved the beautiful Iris, nice pics,
    I love iris too

  39. I just got a horticultural dictionary from a friend who knows that I'm totally clueless about botanical names. It's my mid-year resolution to become better versed. I also resolve to grow iris next year!

  40. Ein wunderschönes Foto, von dieser edlen Pflanze!
    Lieben Gruß aus Deutschland
    von Lilo

  41. Hi all! Rough day in the garden. Just wanted to say thanks to all who dropped by.

    Zindagi, Welcome!

    Lilo, Welcome too! Und viele danke!

  42. While I don't know anything about proper latin names, I had that iris at my old house, and it was called Batik. I'm searching for it again, as I loved it!

  43. oh! I love iris too, don't know about the first, but the second looks like Batik by Zebra Gardens' Kasperek

    just a guess :)
    didn't read all the comments, I'll bet somebody else already id'ed it.

  44. Phyllis, I so totally agree with you on the iris. A rainbow of color is such a wonderful thing in the garden. Thanks for dropping by!