Iris willmottiana

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Iris willmottiana is a species in the genus Iris, in the subgenus Scorpiris. It is a bulbous perennial.

It was collected from Bokhara in Eastern Turkestan in 1899, by a plant collector on behalf of the Van Tubergen nurseries in Haarlem, the Netherlands.[1] It was then sent to Michael Foster[2] who then first published and described it in the 'Gardeners Chronicle' of London' in 1901.[3]

He named it after Ellen Willmott, a renowned gardener. It is one of 60 or so plants named after her.[4] Mr Foster chose Mrs Willmott due to her interest in irises.[2]

It was later illustrated in colour in Curtis's Botanical Magazine, plate number 8340, in 1912.[2]

Iris willmottiana is now an accepted name by the RHS.[5]

It is hardy to USDA Zone 3.[6]

Although the plant is quite hardy, in the UK, it is better cultivated in a bulb frame.[4] or Alpine house, but has been grown outside.[7]

It prefers to grow in sandy loam,[8] with good drainage and in full sun.[9]

Iris willmottiana, Iris willmottiana 'Alba' and Iris warleyensis (named after Miss Willmotts garden in Essex), are all easier to find in the US than in England.[10]

The plant listed as Iris willmottiana 'Alba', is now thought to be a white form of Iris bucharica.[6][7]

It can produce hybrids very easy with Iris magnifica and Iris graeberiana.[8]


Iris willmottiana is very similar in form to that of Iris caucasica. Sharing similar size, shape, leaf margin but having smaller flowers.[2]

It has thickened roots.[7]

It generally grows to a height of between Template:Convert tall,[4] in late spring or early summer.[7]

It has about 2 - 6 flowers on a short stem.[11]

The large flowers (about 6–7 cm in diameter),[7] come in various shades of blue, from intense cobalt blue,[9] pale lavender-blue,[12] pale purple,[7] to light purple.[6] The flowers are also blotched with white,[6] and flecked deep lavender-purple,[7] The falls have a large white area and white crest or central ridge with purple marks.[12] The standards are about 1.5 cm long.[6]

It has broad leaves that are glossy lustrous green, that appear in May.[4][7][12] The leaves also have a thin white margin on the edges.[2]


Iris willmottiana is from Central Asia and (the former Russian state),[11] of Kazakhstan.[4][6] It grows wild in the stony foothills of the Pamir mountain range,[4] at around 2900m above sea level.[12] It has been found on Aksu Zhabagli,[12][13] and Karatau Mountains, in Kazakhstan.[9]



Other sources

  • British Iris Society, 1997, A Guide to Species Irises: Their Identification and Cultivation, page 275
  • Mathew, B. 1981. The Iris. 143.

External links

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