Can anyone identify this old brown iris?

onagadoriFebruary 21, 2013

Can anyone identify the cultivar name of this old bearded iris. We have garden named it 'old ugly', but it is the toughest old iris I have ever seen, basically growing more like a weed than a garden plant. It blooms fairly early in the bearded iris season, starting just before the cultivar Honey Tiger and overlapping with that cultivars bloom time. I will add more pictures to this list.Thanks in advance!


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pic #2

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 1:58AM
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Pic #3

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 2:00AM
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pic #4

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 2:01AM
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It looks a lot like one of mine in Utah that may be Harvest Moon.

Another member, Aquawise, has a great website with one just like this one. Mine grows well also - I just wish it was a prettier color.... Below is an older post about this old brown iris with her website link about it.

â¢Posted by aquawise zone 4 Utah (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 22, 12 at 21:03

It is endangered because it is had to find! Not to many people grow it so it is out of favor and slowly dieing out.It was Intro'd in 1944.
Brighton park Iris has it listed as endangered. I love mine it was here when I bought this old House built in 1888. It was almost all dead but a few little rhizomes. It has been slow to make a come back but I think it is doing great now.
Follow this link then scroll down to Harvest moon and click on that. It will show you the rest.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 3:02PM
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Hi Zaffisc,

Thanks for your post. I don't think it is Harvest Moon, as HM has way more orange in it than this cultivar does. Your picture shows more orange tones in the falls and the picture at the Brighton Park site is way, way more orange than the brown I have. Look closely at my pics and you should be able to see the difference in tone, though they are in the same color family. The form of both iris cultivars is very close though.

I suspect this old brown many be Jean Cayeux. I found it last night on the HIPS website under the pictures section.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 8:42PM
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Those are both *beautiful* old irises!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 3:07PM
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You might also consider Byzantium, which is also pictured in the HIPS gallery. I'm in a similar predicament as you, with an old cultivar that I've tentatively ID'd as Jean Cayeux, and I'm now in the process of growing positively identified rhizomes of both JC and Byzantium alongside. From the descriptions and photos I've seen, I'd venture a tentative guess that yours in Byzantium, based on the amount/prominence of venation at the hafts and the richness of the color.

And I agree with sylviatexas that whatever you have it's not at all "ugly" (though almost certainly old).

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 11:26AM
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jeanrichter(9 (SF bay area))

Your definitely not ugly iris looks very close to Byzantium to me. The only thing that troubles me is the beard length, which looks a tad too long compared to Byzantium. However, camera angle can make a difference in apparent beard length, so chances are it is Byzantium - there just aren't that many old brown iris.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 3:01PM
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I wanted to thank everyone who has offered their thoughts on this iris, but really folks, I don't think the iris is ugly, so can we let that go? The garden name was given by my grandmother, and it is ironic, as we love the flower and have grown it here for over fifty years. If any of us really thought it was ugly, it would have been dug up and composted a long time ago. The name arose when one of my grandmother's sisters commented on it as that "old ugly thing", to which my grandmother took some offense, but in time, that name stuck, because my grandmother appreciated irony (she adored the simply beauty of the flower and had the capacity to get irony).

I think the cultivars is most likely Jean Cayeux, rather than Byzantium, but who knows... I appreciate the input. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 10:16PM
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aquawise(zone 4 Utah)

Looks a lot like Harvest Moon! It could also be MARY GEDDES!
Byzantium has a small lavender spot on the falls. Here is a link to my Iris so far. Hope this helps and if I find one like yours I will send you a link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Iris

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 10:35PM
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aquawise(zone 4 Utah)

Jean Cayeux also has lavender in the falls. Not all cameras keep the color true. Some browns come off as Bronze to Orangeish.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 10:41PM
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