Iris is the largest genus of the Iridaceae (Asparagales), which includes more than 300 species with diverse growing habitats. Most of them are found in desert, semidesert, dry, or rocky habitats, and only few occur in wetland environments (Kaššák, 2012). There are abundant Iris resources in China, and ≈60 Iris species are widely distributed in the northwest, northeast, and southwest of China (Deng et al., 2009). Iris germanica L. belongs to Iris genus and is the most extensively cultivated species of Iridaceae and spread mostly across the northern temperate zone (Kohlein, 1987; Mitra, 1956). They are well known for their singular flower type and plentiful rainbow-like flower color. The showy appearance and convenient cultivation and propagation contribute to the extraordinary prevalence of I. germanica L. globally (Fan et al., 2020; Zhao et al., 2016). However, I. germanica has a relatively short flowering period that is concentrated in April for most cultivars in China. To extend the flowering period, we released three new I. germanica cultivars, Autumnal Moon, Purple Canary, and Butter Baby, in 2019 that were characterized by attractive flowers and blooming in the early March. They belong to the Standard Dwarf Bearded (SDB) of I. germanica.
‘Purple Canary’ and ‘Butter Baby’ were selected from the cross ‘Sun Doll’ × ‘00244’ and ‘00246’ × ‘00267’, respectively, and ‘Autumnal Moon’ was selected from an open-pollinated progeny population of ‘Blueberry Tart’ at Iris Germplasm Repository in Institute of Botany, Jiangsu Province and Chinese Academy of Sciences. ‘Sun Doll’, ‘00244’, ‘00246’, ‘00267’, and ‘Blueberry Tart’ were introduced from Xi’an Botanical Garden of China in 1997. The hybridizations between ‘Sun Doll’ × ‘00244’, ‘00267’ × ‘00246’, and ‘Blueberry Tart’ × unknown were conducted in 2012. In 2014, three excellent individuals were obtained from their respective progeny population, which belong to the Standard Dwarf Bearded (SDB) iris. From 2014 to 2016, individuals were propagated by tissue culture and observed continuously from 2017 to 2019. Field performances in Nanjing, Lishui, and Dongtai suggested that all three lines show earlier flowering time compared with their parents and exhibit stable morphologies. The new cultivars were officially authorized to be released as Autumnal Moon, Purple Canary, and Butter Baby by the American Iris Society in 2019 (accession nos. 19-1004, 19-1005, and 19-1006).
Deng, G.B., Zhang, H.B., Xue, H.F., Chen, S.N. & Chen, X.L. 2009 Chemical composition and biological activities of essential oil from the rhizomes of Iris bulleyana Agr. Sci. China 8 691 696
Fan, Z.P., Gao, Y.K., Liu, R., Wang, X.Z., Guo, Y.C. & Zhang, Q.X. 2020 The major gene and polygene effects of ornamental traits in bearded iris (Iris germanica) using joint segregation analysis Scientia Hort. 260 108882
Kohlein, F. 1987 Iris. Timber Press, Portland, OR
Zhao, X.J., Bi, G.H., Harkess, R.L., Varco, J.J. & Blythe, E.K. 2016 Spring nitrogen uptake, use efficiency, and partitioning for growth in Iris germanica ‘Immortality’ HortScience 51 563 566