Iris lactea

 

https://08511630493324166816.googlegroups.com/attach/1533238b50e6f2f4/IMG_1899.jpg?part=0.3&view=1&vt=ANaJVrE-kMxLdVeQmchKILM-Cj3EAVaj0OjokqI7TAOV4PQEEMyNYsgeQcI8yylgpLA0Z1JPE_wSu7Tz3zLroytqoNPN1-xzjrOPyBjGJ-uWxAcdG4rat44
 
ID request-131011-PKA2: I had seen this herb at Leh.
Date/Time: 16-09-2011 / 08:45AM
Location: Leh, Ladakh
Habitat: Wild
Plant Habit: Herb
Could this be some Iris?
This time I am not disagreeing. It Iris ensata, very common in neglected areas.
As it turns out now, the plant often identified in Indian books (Flora of British India; Blatter Beautiful Flowers of Kashmir; Stewart Annotated Caltalogue, etc) as I. ensata is in fact Iris lactea. Not to get confused by Flowers of Himalaya which treats I. ensata Thunb. as synonym of I. lactea Pallas. The two species are distinct, both described in Flora of China. The key differentiation is almost whitish (with darker veins) outer perianth hardly 1 cm broad, perianth tube less than 3 mm long and ovary 3-5 cm long in I. lactea as against darker outer perianth with yellow centre, about 3 cm broad, perianth tube 1.5-2 cm long and ovary 1.5-2 cm long in I. ensata.
The following features can separate two species:
Iris lactea                                                                     Iris ensata
Leaves without mid vein                                               Leaves with distinct midvein on both surfaces
Flowering stems 3-30 cm                                             Flowering stems 25-100 cm
Flowers pale violet, or partly white, 5-8 cm in diam.     Flowers reddish-purple, 9-11 cm in diam.
Prianth tube barely 3 mm                                              Prianth tube, 1.5-2 cm
Outer perianthsegments oblanceolate, 4.5-6.5 cm        Outer segments obovate, mottled yellow at 1 cm broad                                                                            center, 7-8.5 cm,3-3.5 cm broad
Ovary narrowly fusiform, 3-5 cm long, grooved             Ovary cylindric 1.5-2 cm long
Capsule 6.5-7.5 cm x 1-1.4 cm, 6 ribbed                      Capsule ellipsoid, 4.5-5.5 x 1.5-1.8 cm, 6  ribbed

Yes, these are the pods of what is now Iris lactea.
https://08511630493324166816.googlegroups.com/attach/83147ff43108c/IMG_7251.JPG?part=0.2&view=1&vt=ANaJVrH9VcdtHdlTsmHITSzp057QvNnRVqOJc9t8EdfhLLyGYyUzFMpM_vTi4NvlKadItJrLavxYgHcxUQKyCwFsaqBqa2h3_d_tcXpDTz0PLyykyIeuDPo 
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https://08511630493324166816.googlegroups.com/attach/83147ff43108c/IMG_7265.JPG?part=0.1&view=1&vt=ANaJVrHTNJkw705xZ8SDH0VqygNX7nDrptsvnaehGeUTKlvrA-YB4fFxUWkwhezpPpkkgOVZt3gOCMQ-tGDU2UkZ503qSRVt5P3G7IVflsmmQlCz0Xila-I
Iris lactea ?? at Hemis, Ladakh- July-PKA-12 : 5 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (4)
Seen this Iris sp. at Hemis, Ladakh. Could this be Iris lactea?


Yes ... One of the commonest wilds species in Kashmir valley as well as Ladakh. Identified earlier in Indian Floras as I. ensata for more than 100 years. The two are very distinct 
Iris lactea                                                                     Iris ensata
Leaves without mid vein                                               Leaves with distinct midvein on both surfaces
Flowering stems 3-30 cm                                             Flowering stems 25-100 cm
Flowers pale violet, or partly white, 5-8 cm in diam.     Flowers reddish-purple, 9-11 cm in diam.
Prianth tube barely 3 mm                                              Prianth tube, 1.5-2 cm
Outer perianthsegments oblanceolate, 4.5-6.5 cm        Outer segments obovate, mottled yellow at 1 cm broad                                                                            center, 7-8.5 cm,3-3.5 cm broad
Ovary narrowly fusiform, 3-5 cm long, grooved             Ovary cylindric 1.5-2 cm long
Capsule 6.5-7.5 cm x 1-1.4 cm, 6 ribbed                      Capsule ellipsoid, 4.5-5.5 x 1.5-1.8 cm, 6  ribbed

Yes, this comes within what is now known as Iris lactea.
https://08511630493324166816.googlegroups.com/attach/d1d6c97b6d2d2/Iris%20lactea%20in%20the%20Himalaya%20(Adam%20%20Stainton).jpg?part=0.1&view=1&vt=ANaJVrE2gLTFapKCf0moO_2uZk11_-w2Z4es2LPF0gnn9LDypSw0htyUFRwhkn9gGNqM5sZhL4uwxZs6SUk8zDTRuMwAoJFLgZrrwsO0OPc1pNpXnwdFTUc
 
Fwd: Iris lactea : 1 post by 1 author. Attachments (1)
An image scanned in from a slide taken by the Late Adam Stainton - do not have any information where in the Himalaya this was photographed.
Flowers of the Himalaya recorded it from edge of fields and irrigation channels; Pakistan to Himachal Pradesh, Tibet and Central Asia @ 1500-3300m.  Common in Kashmir & Ladakh.
I have some images of this species, probably from a Central Asian introduction, taken at Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado, which are worth posting by way of illustrating variation within a species.
Stewart knew this as Iris ensata (syn. I.moorcroftiana) from Baluchistan & N.Pakistan, Ladakh; very common in Kashmir on river and canal banks at Uri, Baramulla etc. @ 1200-3300m.
Roy Lancaster found this at Pahlgam during a botanical tour in the late 1970s.
Plants of Gulmarg record it near wastelands at Tangmarg.
This was the third species my team collected during the 1980 University of Southampton Ladakh Expedition. It was at Kargil, 2900m, beside irrigated field; fine silty-loam, amongst Hippophae rhamnoides, Melilotus, grasses; to 20cm, upper petals mauve, lower white with mauve veins.  Maxwell collected it in the Stok Valley during the 1976 University of Southampton Ladakh Expedition.
Klimes recorded this Iris in mesic to wet habitats, banks of irrigation canals, in gardens, villages, trampled sites in Ladakh.
Flora of Lahaul-Spiti records this Iris from Lahaul on the basis of a specimen collected by Bor in the Dehra Dun herbarium.
However, this specimen is very fragmentary and may well be I.kemaonensis.
Collet did not record it in Flora Simlensis.
https://08511630493324166816.googlegroups.com/attach/daa3f4bee9a1b/1.%20Iris%20lactea%20photographed%20at%20%20Denver%20Botanic%20Garden,%20Colorado%20(Chris%20Chadwell).JPG?part=0.1&view=1&vt=ANaJVrFibZFKf0YEh9FrkCmLfCth85yzwJi5qyN4JsvNkzF0qivZQ85mRYkXuNxlj_39-IW6TQUDJltt1oor_CbRF-tZmsOKEexSanWCrOb5iU7IgkvZMUs
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https://08511630493324166816.googlegroups.com/attach/daa3f4bee9a1b/6.%20Iris%20lactea%20photographed%20at%20%20Denver%20Botanic%20Garden,%20Colorado%20(Chris%20Chadwell).JPG?part=0.6&view=1&vt=ANaJVrEt5odcxgfg5J9Bh1pdkrV0ijZf27VsuJ7kwbW2WVomuadElQ3qAjUB-samJZ-pqe3ZOKFIYUg0yQyATs3XbNofMEeB_Hz2R4ASsCcZHlN9DkAGbVc
 
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Fwd: Iris lactea at Denver Botanic Gardens, USA : 1 post by 1 author. Attachments (6)
Here with the promised images of what was labelled as the 'White-flower Chinese Iris' (Iris lactea) from Temperate Asia (no actual provenance given on the label) - assuming it was correctly identified.
Just because you are in a botanic garden is NOT a guarantee that the plants being cultivated have been correctly identified/labelled.
Certainly different colour forms to those I have seen of I.lactea in Ladakh.
I was in town lecturing to the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society during a lecture tour which took in the Pacific North-West ending in Alaska, a few years ago. 
Still in the spring so not that much in flower with few typically Himalayan species suited to being grown under the rather arid conditions which prevailed on the Botanic Gardens Rock-Garden. A number of Ephedras were flourishing.

  


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