1. Family: Iridaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Iris Tourn. ex L.
      1. Iris sibirica L.

        The very attractive Siberian iris was first collected from the wild and planted in monasteries and royal gardens during the Middle Ages. The genus Iris was named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow, because of the wide variety of flower colours in this genus. The specific epithet sibirica refers to Siberia, where this species grows wild.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description

    The very attractive Siberian iris was first collected from the wild and planted in monasteries and royal gardens during the Middle Ages. The genus Iris was named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow, because of the wide variety of flower colours in this genus. The specific epithet sibirica refers to Siberia, where this species grows wild.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    Siberian iris is native to central and eastern Europe, ranging from north-eastern Turkey, European Russia and western Siberia in the east, to northern Italy in the west. It has become naturalised in other temperate regions, such as the British Isles and North America.

    Description

    Overview: Iris sibirica has a rhizome (horizontal underground stem) and hollow, frequently branched, somewhat compressed vertical stems measuring 50-120 cm high.

    Leaves: The leaves are green, and there are usually a few small ones on the stem in addition to several basal leaves measuring 25-80 cm x 4-10 mm.

    Flowers: Each plant bears 1-3 (rarely 5), mid-blue to violet-blue (rarely white) flowers, measuring 5-7 cm in diameter. The pedicels measure up to 10 cm. The spathes (sheathing bracts) are brown and membranous at the time of flowering, and measure 2.5-5 cm. The perianth tube (formed by the petals and sepals) measures 4-7 mm. The falls (sepals of an iris) are 3-7 cm long, oblong to obovate (egg-shaped) and generally have a paler zone in the centre. The limbs (the expanded part of a corolla that has united petals) are obovate to orbicular in shape. The standard (the upper and usually largest petal) measures 2.5-6 x 1.2-2 cm, and is erect and narrowly obovate to elliptic. The style branches measure 3-4 x 0.5-0.8 cm and have erect, rounded to crenate lobes.

    Fruits: The fruit is a capsule 2-4 cm long with an ellipsoidal to sub-cylindrical shape. The seeds are flat.

    Flowers are borne between May and July, and the seeds ripen between August and September. The flowers are hermaphroditic (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects. The plant is capable of self-fertilisation.

    There are many cultivars of Siberian iris, and also hybrids with the blood iris ( Iris sanguinea ), ranging in flower colour from white to pale blue, dark blue, mauve and violet.

    Threats and conservation

    Globally, Iris sibirica has an extensive range, and is likely to be of Least Concern according to IUCN Red List criteria, although this has not been verified by a formal conservation assessment.

    Uses

    Iris sibirica grows well in moist or boggy ground and makes an attractive addition to the woodland garden or the margins of ponds and streams.

    Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

    Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life world wide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

    Description of seeds: Average 1,000 seed weight = 15.8 g

    Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: Two

    This species at Kew

    Siberian iris can be seen growing in the Rock Garden at Kew and the Iris Dell at Wakehurst.

    A spirit-preserved specimen of Iris sibirica is held in the Herbarium, one of the behind-the-scenes areas of Kew. The details of this specimen can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.

    Ecology
    Damp woodlands and grasslands.
    Conservation
    National assessments according to IUCN Red List criteria: Vulnerable (VU) (Czech Republic, Hungary, Ukraine); Extinct in the Wild (EW) (Slovakia). Considered to be rare and endangered in Poland. Not considered threatened in Romania.
    Hazards

    All parts of both wild and cultivated Iris are poisonous, especially the rhizomes (swollen underground stems).

    Images

    Distribution

    Native to:

    Altay, Austria, Baltic States, Belarus, Bulgaria, Central European Rus, Czechoslovakia, East European Russia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Krasnoyarsk, Mongolia, North Caucasus, North European Russi, Northwest European R, Poland, Romania, South European Russi, Switzerland, Transcaucasus, Turkey, Ukraine, West Siberia, Yugoslavia

    Introduced into:

    British Columbia, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Korea, Maine, Masachusettes, New York, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Sweden, Vermont, Washington

    Common Names

    English
    Siberian iris

    Iris sibirica L. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Grey-Wilson, C. 45626.000

    First published in Sp. Pl.: 39 (1753)

    Accepted by

    • Chang, C.S., Kim, H. & Chang, K.S. (2014). Provisional checklist of vascular plants for the Korea peninsula flora (KPF): 1-660. DESIGNPOST.
    • Colasante, M.A. (2014). Iridaceae presenti in Italia: 1-415. Sapienza, Università Editrice, Roma.
    • Mohlenbrock, R.H. (2014). Vascular Flora of Illinois. A Field Guide, ed. 4: 1-536. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale.
    • Alexeyeva, N. (2008). Genus Iris L. (Iridaceae) in the Russia Turczaninowia 11(2): 5-68.
    • Takhtajan, A.L. (ed.) (2006). Conspectus Florae Caucasi 2: 1-466. Editio Universitatis Petropolitanae.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2002). Flora of North America North of Mexico 26: 1-723. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.
    • Malyschev L.I. & Peschkova , G.A. (eds.) (2001). Flora of Siberia 4: 1-238. Scientific Publishers, Inc., Enfield, Plymouth.
    • Grubov, V.I. (2001). Key to the Vascular Plants of Mongolia 1: 1-411. Science Publishers, Inc. Enfield, USA. Plymouth, U.K.
    • Lee, W.T. (1996). Lineamenta Florae Koreae: 1-1688. Soul T'ukpyolsi: Ak'ademi Sojok.
    • Czerepanov, S.K. (1995). Vascular Plants of Russia and Adjacent States (The Former USSR): 1-516. Cambridge University Press.
    • Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1984). Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands 8: 381-450. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
    • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1980). Flora Europaea 5: 1-452. Cambridge University Press.
    • Pavlov, N.V. (ed.) (1958). Flora Kazakhstana 2: 1-290. Alma-Ata, Izd-vo Akademii nauk Kazakhskoi SSR.
    • Komarov, V.L. (ed.) (1935). Flora SSSR 4: 1-586. Izdatel'stov Akademii Nauk SSSR, Leningrad.

    Literature

    Kew Species Profiles
    • Goldblatt, P. & Manning, J.C. (2008). The Iris Family: Natural History and Classification. Timber Press, Portland, Or.
    • Kostrakiewicz, K. & Wroblewska, A. (2008). Low genetic variation in subpopulations of an endangered clonal plant Iris sibirica in southern Poland. Ann. Bot. Fennici 45: 186-194.
    • Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. (2008) Seed Information Database (SID). Version 7.1.
    • Austin, C. (2005). Irises: A Gardener's Encyclopedia. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.
    • Witkowski, Z.J., Król, W. & Solarz, W. (eds.) (2003). Carpathian List of Endangered Species. WWF and Institute of Nature Conservation, Polish Academy of Sciences, Vienna-Krakow.
    • Harris, J.G. & Woolf Harris, M. (2001). Plant Identification Terminology. Spring Lake Publishing, Spring Lake, Utah.
    • Cooper, M.R. & Johnson, A.W. (1998). Poisonous Plants and Fungi in Britain. 2nd Edition. The Stationery Office, London.
    • British Iris Society Species Group (1997). A Guide to Species: Irises: Their Identification and Cultivation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
    • McEwen, C. (1996). The Siberian Iris. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.
    • Köhlein, F. (1987). Iris. Helm, Bromley, Kent.
    • Mathews, B. (1984). Iris. In: Flora of Turkey Volume 8, ed. P.H. Davis. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
    • Webb, D.A. & Chater, A.O. (1980). Iris. In: Flora Europaea Volume 5, ed. T.G. Tutin, V.H. Heywood, N.A. Burges, D.M. Moore, D.H. Valentine, S.M. Walters & D.A. Webb, pp. 87-92. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
    Kew Backbone Distributions
    • Mohlenbrock, R.H. (2014). Vascular Flora of Illinois. A Field Guide, ed. 4: 1-536. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale.
    • Alexeyeva, N. (2008). Genus Iris L. (Iridaceae) in the Russia Turczaninowia 11(2): 5-68.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2002). Flora of North America North of Mexico 26: 1-723. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.
    • Grubov, V.I. (2001). Key to the Vascular Plants of Mongolia 1: 1-411. Science Publishers, Inc. Enfield, USA. Plymouth, U.K.
    • Lee, W.T. (1996). Lineamenta Florae Koreae: 1-1688. Soul T'ukpyolsi: Ak'ademi Sojok.
    • Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1984). Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands 8: 381-450. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
    • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1980). Flora Europaea 5: 1-452. Cambridge University Press.
    • Pavlov, N.V. (ed.) (1958). Flora Kazakhstana 2: 1-290. Alma-Ata, Izd-vo Akademii nauk Kazakhskoi SSR.
    • Komarov, V.L. (ed.) (1935). Flora SSSR 4: 1-586. Izdatel'stov Akademii Nauk SSSR, Leningrad.

    Sources

    Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
    'The Herbarium Catalogue, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet http://www.kew.org/herbcat [accessed on Day Month Year]'. Please enter the date on which you consulted the system.

    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2019. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2019. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0