A TAXONOMIC APPRAISAL OF GENUS IRIS L. (IRIDACEAE) IN KASHMIR
Chesfeeda Akhter, Anzar A. Khuroo, Akhtar H. Malik, G. H. Dar
Received 06.08.2012. Accepted for publication 08.11.2012.
Chesfeeda Akhter, Khuroo, Anzar A., Malik, Akhtar H., Dar, G. H. 2012 06 30: A taxonomic appraisal of genus Iris
L. in Kashmir Himalaya, India. –Iran. J. Bot. 19 (2): 119-126. Tehran.
From the Kashmir Himalaya, the Irises have been little investigated taxonomically. As a result of this, the species
richness of irises reported from this region has been numerically variable and taxonomically confusing. In view of
this, the present study has been undertaken to work out the taxonomy of Iris L. in this Himalayan region. A
taxonomic account of fourteen (14) species of Iris recorded in the Kashmir Himalaya has been provided. Updated
nomenclature, with basionym and synonyms (if any), description, altitudinal range, distribution pattern and colored
illustration of the Iris species in the region is provided. The species: Iris japonica, I versicolor and I. hollandica are
three new species records for the study area.
Chesfeeda Akhter, Anzar Ahmad Khuroo (correspondence <firstname.lastname@example.org>), Akhtar Hussain Malik, Ghulam
Hassan Dar, Centre for Biodiversity & Taxonomy, Department of Botany, University of Kashmir, Srinagar- 190
006, Jammu & Kashmir, India.
Key words. Iris, taxonomy, species richness, Kashmir Himalaya.
ﻥﺎﺘﺳﻭﺪﻨﻫ ،ﺎﻴﻟﺎﻤﻴﻫ ﺮﻴﻤﺸﮐ ﺭﺩ ﻖﺒﻧﺯ ﺲﻨﺟ ﮏﻴﻣﻮﻧﻮﺴﮐﺎﺗ ﻲﺑﺎﻳﺯﺭﺍ
،ﺭﺩ ﻦﺴﺣ ﻡﻼﻏ ﻭ ﮏﻠﻣ ﻦﻴﺴﺣ ﺮﺘﺧﺍ ،ﻭﺭﻮﺧ ﺪﻤﺣﺍ ﺮﻈﻧﺍ ،ﺮﺘﺧﺍ ﺍﺪﻴﻔﺴﭼ ﯽﻤﻠﻋ ﺖﺌﻴﻫ ﯼﺎﻀﻋﺍ ،ﻲﻣﻮﻧﻮﺴﮐﺎﺗ ﻭ ﻲﺘﺴﻳﺯ ﻉﻮﻨﺗ ﺰﮐﺮﻣ
ﭘﺩﻥﺎﺘﺳﻭﺪﻨﻫ ،ﺮﻴﻤﺸﮐ ﻩﺎﮕﺸﻧﺍﺩ ،ﻲﺳﺎﻨﺸﻫﺎﻴﮔ ﻥﺎﻤﺗﺭﺎ.
ﻪﻧﻮﮔ ﻣﻮﻧﻮﺴﻛﺎﺗ هﺎﮔﺪﻳد زا ﺎﻴﻟﺎﻤﻴﻫ ﺮﻴﻤﺸﻛ رد ﻖﺒﻧز ﺲﻨﺟ يﺎﻫﻪﻧﻮﮔ داﺪﻌﺗ ﻪﺠﻴﺘﻧ رد و ،ﺖﺳا ﻪﺘﻓﺮﮔ راﺮﻗ ﻲﻤﻛ ﻲﺳرﺮﺑ درﻮﻣ ﻲ هدر و ﺎﻫ ﺎﺑ ﺎﻬﻧآ يﺪﻨﺑ
هدﻮﺑ هاﺮﻤﻫ هﺎﺒﺘﺷا ﺖﺳا .ﻲﻣ ﺎﻴﻟﺎﻤﻴﻫ ﺮﻴﻤﺸﻛ ﻪﻘﻄﻨﻣ رد ﻖﺒﻧز ﺲﻨﺟ ﻲﻣﻮﻧﻮﺴﻛﺎﺗ ﻪﺑ ﺮﺿﺎﺣ ﻪﻌﻟﺎﻄﻣ ،رﻮﻈﻨﻣ ﻦﻴﻤﻫ ﻪﺑ دزادﺮﭘ . ﻪﻘﻄﻨﻣ ﻦﻳا رد14
ﻲﻣ هداد ﺺﻴﺨﺸﺗ اﺮﺘﻣ و ﺢﻴﺤﺻ يﺎﻬﻣﺎﻧ ﻪﻟﺎﻘﻣ ﻦﻳا رد و دﻮﺷﻪﻧﻮﮔ حﺮﺷ ،فد ﻪﺋارا ﺎﻬﻧآ ﺮﻳوﺎﺼﺗ ﻦﻴﻨﭽﻤﻫ و ﺎﻬﻧآ رﺎﺸﺘﻧا ،ﻲﻋﺎﻔﺗرا تاﺮﻴﻴﻐﺗ ﻪﻨﻣاد ،ﺎﻫ
ﻲﻣ ددﺮﮔ .ﻪﻧﻮﮔ ﻲﻣ شراﺰﮔ ﻪﻘﻄﻨﻣ ياﺮﺑ رﺎﺑ ﻦﻴﻟوا ياﺮﺑ ﺮﻳز يﺎﻫ ﺪﻧدﺮﮔ.
Iris L., commonly known as Iris, are perennial bulbous
or rhizomatous plants belonging to the Iridaceae, a
family placed under the order Asparagales (Stevens
2001). Almost cosmopolitan in distribution, it is one of
the most important and prized group of plants in
horticulture and floriculture. Iris is the genus of 260-
300 species with showy flowers. The genus takes its
name from the Greek word for a rainbow, referring to
the beautiful and varied colours of flowers among the
many species as well as countless garden cultivars
In the Kashmir Himalaya, a region located in
northwestern extreme of Himalayan biodiversity
hotspot, the genus Iris occur from the valley bottom to
high alpines along an altitudinal gradient ranging from
1600 to 4500 m. Various species of Iris grow
abundantly in diverse habitats such as alpine and sub-
alpine meadows, roadsides, stream banks, public
gardens, orchards, saffron fields, graveyards and
cemeteries (Zeerak & Wani 2007). From the Kashmir
Himalaya, during over the last one century, a number
of workers while carrying out general floristic studies
from different areas of the region have reported the
occurrence of Irises (Coventry 1923; Blatter 1928;
Stewart 1972; Sharma & Kachroo 1981; Polunin &
Stainton 1984; Singh & Kachroo 1976; Dhar &
Kachroo 1983; Kachroo et al 1977; Singh & Kachroo
1994; Sharma & Jamwal 1998; Swami & Gupta 1998;
Murti 2001; Zeerak & Wani 2007). However, the
number of Iris species reported by these workers in the
region varies considerably and lack taxonomic clarity.
It is in this context that the present paper provides an
updated taxonomic appraisal of genus Iris in this
IRAN. J. BOT. 19 (1), 2013 Chesfeeda Akhtar & al. 120
Himalayan region with an updated nomenclature,
description, local distribution, altitudinal range, and
flowering phenology of each species.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
The present work is mainly based on the collection of
Iris specimens during the floristic surveys in the region
over the last one decade, supplemented with critical
examination of the previous herbarium specimens
deposited in Kashmir University Herbarium (KASH)
and Northern Circle Botanical Survey of India
(NC/BSI), Dehradun and perusal of relevant systematic
literature. Recent nomenclature changes were
incorporated by using the specialized online web
resources. Altitudinal range for all the species has been
worked out; and it refers to the minima and maxima of
altitude within all the recorded localities of each
species in the region. Chromosome number (2n) has
been documented for each species using the online web
source: Index to Plant Chromosome Numbers (IPCN).
At the present stage of investigation, the genus Iris is
represented by 14 species in the Kashmir Himalaya.
Both the species growing in wild and those cultivated
species, which have now become fully naturalized in
the region, have been included. Each species has been
provided with currently valid scientific name, followed
by full author citation, English name, Kashmiri name,
basionym and synonyms (if any), taxonomic
description, flowering period, geographic distribution
including local distribution and altitudinal range in
meters (above mean sea level). A bracketed key has
been also constructed.
Key to the species of Iris in the Kashmir
1.+Plants with a rhizome; leaves usually flat 2
- Plants with a bulb; leaves folded at midrib 13
2.+ Plants with tiny rhizome and markedly swollen
tuber-like, as well as fibrous roots; standards narrowly
lanceolate, bent outwards and downwards like fall
1. Iris decora
- Plants with well-developed rhizome, sometimes
slender and stolon-like, not swollen tuber-like;
standards erect 3
3.+ Falls with a distinct beard of fairly long hairs 4
- Falls without a distinct beard but may have cock’s
comb-like crest, or rarely a fine pubescence of very
short unicellular papillae on the haft. 7
4.+ Rhizomes stout; hairs on falls multicellular; seeds
- Rhizomes slender and compact; hairs on falls
unicellular; seeds arillate 2. Iris hookeriana
5.+ Flowers bi-coloured; standards yellow; falls
purplish and creamy veined 3. Iris variegata
- Flowers other than above 6
6.+ Flowers usually white; bracts green, only a narrow
margin scarious, outer one 7-11 cm long
4. Iris kashmiriana
- Flowers usually violet; bracts scarious at least in the
upper half, outer one up to 5 cm long 5. Iris germanica
7. + Crest on fall of flowers present 8
- Crest on the fall of flowers absent 9
8.+ Rhizome dimorphic; leaves clustered into a broad
terminal fan; flowers white or pale blue, falls and
standards fringed 6. Iris japonica
- Rhizome not dimorphic; leaves alternate on stem,
not clustered into a terminal fan; flowers pale reddish
purple, falls and standards not fringed 7. Iris milesii
9.+ Capsule with 6 ribs running longitudinally; 2 ribs at
each of the 3 corners; seeds with a loose papery coat 10
- Capsule other than above 11
10.+ Flowers deep golden yellow; blade of fall longer
than haft 8. Iris crocea
- Flowers bright deep blue or violet blue with median
yellow stripe; blade of fall equal to or shorter than haft
9. Iris spuria
11.+ Perianth tube very short (only 2-3 mm long); falls
and standards appear almost free; capsule shortly
- Perianth tube 1-1.2 cm long; capsule conspicuously
beaked 10. Iris versicolor
12.+ Leaves ensiform, mid-rib prominent; flowers 9-10
cm in dia.; falls obovate, mottled yellow at centre;
capsule ellipsoid; seeds semi-orbicular 11. Iris ensata
- Leaves linear, mid-vein absent; flowers 4-6 cm in
dia.; falls oblanceolate, not mottled; capsule narrowly
cylindric; seeds pyriform 12. Iris lactea
13.+Bulb covered by coarsely reticulate fibrous tunics;
leaves quadri-angular, shiny 13. Iris reticulata
- Bulb covered by papery tunics; leaves strap-shaped,
dull grayish green 14. Iris x hollandica
1. Iris decora Wall., Pl. As. Rar. 1:77. t. 86 ((1829).
(Himalayan iris) (Fig. 1. a.)
I. nepalensis D. Don, Prodr. Fl. Nepal. 54 (1825) non
Wall. (1824); I. sulcata Wall., Numer. List 5049
(1831).; I. yunnanensis H. Lev., Repert. Spec. Nov.
Regni Veg. 6: 113 (1908).
Perennial herb; root stock stout, prostrate, swollen,
tuber-like; stems 15-30 cm high, slender. Leaves 10-45
cm long, 2-5 mm wide, 2-3 nerved, base surrounded by
brown fibres. Bracts (spathes) slender, 4-6 cm,
acuminate, keeled, generally two flowered. Flowering
stem (penduncle) 10-30 cm tall, often branched;
Pedicel 2-2.5 cm long. Flowers pale lilac, short stalked,
121 Genus Iris in Kashmir IRAN. J. BOT. 19 (1), 2013
3-3.5 cm in diameter. Falls 2.5 cm broad, stalked with a
yellow ridge like crest; standards narrowly lanceolate
and smaller, bent outwards and downwards like falls;
tube 2.5- 6 cm long; crest triangular erect, exceeding
falls and standards, whitish or yellowish, orange at tips.
Filaments white, slightly white tinged; anthers cream
coloured, violet tinged at base; ovary 3-sided, each side
slightly concave; style broadly lobed, pale violet,
toothed at edges; Stigma deeply bilobed. Capsule 2.5-
3.5 cm long, oblong, beaked, enclosed in persistent
spathes. Seeds brown, small, round; aril as long or
longer than seeds.
Flowering period: May-July
Altitudinal range: 1600-4000 m
Chromosome number: 2n = 36
Distribution: Kashmir (Pahalgam); Pakistan and China.
Specimen examined: Pahalgam (Lidderwat), 28-5-
1954, Janki Prasad 10935 (NC/BSI).
2. Iris hookeriana Foster in Gard. Chron., ser. 3. 1:
611 (1887). (Hooker’s iris; ‘jangli kreshim’) (Fig. 1. b.)
I. gilgitensis Baker ex Hook. f., Fl. Brit. India 6: 264
(1892); I. kemaonensis Wall. ex D. Don var.
caulescens Baker, Handb. Irid. 25 (1892).
Rhizome slender, solid, compact, light brown. Leaves
linear, up to 40 cm long, pale green, apex rounded.
Aerial stem (peduncle) 10-15 cm long, 2-flowered;
pedicel very short. Bracts 4-6 cm long, broader than
leaves. Flowers lilac or purplish blue, blotched. Floral
tube green and spotted all over, 2-3 cm long. Falls
clawed, obovate-oblong, stalked, white beard with
thickened orange or yellow tips. Standards erect,
clawed, shorter and smaller than falls, obovate, not
variegated with blotches, tips emarginate. Stamens 3;
filaments blue, as long as creamy anthers; anthers
linear, divarticate at base. Ovary inferior, narrowed at
both ends. Capsule long stalked, oblong, up to 6.5 cm
long. Seeds pyriform, red, aril yellowish.
Flowering period: June-July
Altitudinal range: 2300-3700m.
Chromosome number: 2n= 24
Distribution: Kashmir; (Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Baltal,
Sarbal, Ledwas, Khillenmarg, Khan mountain, Harwan,
Pulwama, Gurais, Chorwan); India, Pakistan and
Specimens examined: Baltal (2900 m), 15-6-1983, G.
H. Dar 5737 (KASH); Harwan (2400 m), 1-5-1971,
Gurcharan Singh 2513 (KASH).
3. Iris variegata L., Sp. Pl. 1: 38 (1753). (Hungarian
iris) (Fig. 1. c.).
I. flavescens Delile, Liliac. 7: t. 375 1812.
Rhizome (underground stem) tuberous with fleshy
roots. Leaves deep green, sword-shaped, slightly
curved, 1-4 cm wide, around 30 cm long, glaucous. The
flowering stems (scape) 30–45 cm high, branched or
rarely unbranched, 3-4 flowered. Spathes dull green
with scarious margins and tips. Flower 5–7 cm across,
enclosed in spathes. Perianth tube yellowish green,
smooth, 2-3 mm long. Standards (inner tepals) obovate,
pale- lemon-yellow; falls (outer tepals) white to pale
yellow, with violet or purple veins sometimes fusing
into a purple blotch, beard hairs yellow at base and
orange at tips; style branches yellowish. Seeds
Flowering period: April-May
Elevation range: 1600-1800m
Chromosome number: 2n=24
Distribution: Kashmir (Srinagar, Baramulla); native of
Specimen examined: Dalgate (1630 m), 6-7-
2010,Chesfeeda Akhter 706 (KASH).
4. Iris kashmiriana Baker in Gard. Chron. Ser. 2.
8:744. 1877. (Kashmir Iris; ‘safed mazarmond’) (Fig.
I. bartonii Foster, Gard. Chron. 1883 (1): 275 1883.
Rhizome thick and stout. Leaves 4-6, up to 60 cm long,
3-5 cm broad, straight, glaucous, acute, margins
scarious. Aerial stem (peduncle) 50-100 cm tall, with 1-
2 branches, each branch 2-3 flowered. Bracts and
bracteoles 7-11 cm, green with only a narrow papery
margins. Perianth fragrant, white with blue markings
and yellow green veins; floral tube 2-2.5 cm long; falls
6-10 cm long, obovate, rounded or cuneate, narrowed
into a short claw which has a dense, narrow white or
yellow tipped beard along the midrib; standards 6-10
cm long, 2-5 cm broad, obovate to oblong, elliptic with
a short yellowish claw. Ovary green with ridges and
grooves; stigma entire. Filament 1-2 cm long, white,
anther 1.5 cm long. Capsule rarely formed. Seeds
globular, red-brown, wrinkled.
Flowering period: April-May
Altitudinal range: 1600-2200m
Chromosome number: 2n = 44
Distribution: Endemic to Kashmir.
Specimens examined: Ganderbal (1650 m), 1-5-1981,
G. H. Dar 1207 (KASH); Kashmir University
Botanical Garden (1600 m), 28-4-1978, A. R. Naqshi
5. Iris germanica L., Sp. Pl. 38. (1753). (German iris;
‘mazarmond’) (Fig. 1. e.)
I. deflexa Knowles & Westc., Fl. Cab. 2: 19 (1838); I.
officinalis Salisb., Prodr. Stirp. Chap. Allerton 43
(1796); I. pallida Ten., Fl. Napol. 3: 36 (1811).
Rhizome thick, many branched, light brown, smooth.
Aerial stem up to 90 cm tall, longer than the leaves,
IRAN. J. BOT. 19 (1), 2013 Chesfeeda Akhtar & al. 122
glabrous, glaucous, erect, herbaceous, simple. Leaves
equitant, ensiform, 30-40 cm long, ±3 cm broad,
glabrous, glaucous, acute, entire. Inflorescence
terminal, 2-3 flowered. Flowers subtended by reduced
bracts. Bracts 2-5 cm long, foliaceous in basal half and
scarious in the apical half, often with a purplish tinge in
the apex. Flowers fragrant; perianth lavender, violet or
bluish with brownish veins in lower parts; floral tube
1.5-3 cm; falls 3, spreading, drooping, obovate, cuneate
at base, 7-10 cm long, 5-6 cm broad at the apex with
white or yellow beard along midrib. Standards 3, 7-9
cm long and 4-5 cm broad, erect, obovate or elliptic
with a narrow claw at the base, glabrous. Ovary
roundly triangular, 1.5-2 cm long, slightly wider than
floral tube. Filaments c. 1.8 cm long, pale purple;
anthers white, subequal. Capsule 3-5 cm long and 2.5
cm broad, roundly 3-lobed, ellipsoid, apex with short
remnant of floral tube; seeds oval, pyriform, red-brown,
3-4 mm, wrinkled.
Flowering period: April-June
Altitudinal range: 1600-1850m
Chromosome number: 2n=44
Distribution: Widespread and naturalized species
throughout the world.
Specimens examined: Ganderbal (1650 m), 1-5-1981,
G. H. Dar 1210(KASH); Pulwama (near Keller), 21-6-
1985, A. R. Naqshi 4211(KASH).
6. Iris japonica Thunberg, Trans. Linn. Soc. London,
Bot. 2: 327 (1794). (fringed or crested iris) (Fig. 1. f.)
I. chinensis Curtis, Bot. Mag. 11: t. 373 1797.;
I. fimbriata Vent., Descr. Pl. Nouv. t. 9 1800.
Perennial; rhizomes dimorphic, suberect, thick,
creeping, long, slender. Leaves basal, sword shaped,
evergreen, arranged in a broad terminal fan, 30-80 cm
long and 2.5-5 cm wide, shiny green above, paler
beneath, reddish purple at base, simple, entire, midvein
absent. Aerial stem erect, branched near apex; spathes
3-5, broadly lanceolate, obtuse, 3-4 flowered. Flowers
pale bluish, 4-6 cm wide; pedicel 1.5-2.5 cm, stiff,
persistent. Floral tube up to 1.8 cm long; falls obovate
or elliptic, spreading, 2.5-3 cm long, lavender-blue,
with conspicuous yellow-orange crest and blue
blotching around central, margin denticulate (fringed),
undulate, apex retuse; standards spreading obliquely,
elliptic or narrowly obovate, up to 3 cm long, clawed,
margin denticulate (fringed), undulate. Stamens 0.8-1.2
cm; anthers white. Ovary 7-10 mm. Style branches pale
blue; terminal lobes fimbriate. Capsule ellipsoid-
cylindric, 2.5-3 × 1.2-1.5 cm, apex not beaked. Seeds
dark brown, with small aril.
Flowering period: March-April.
Elevation range: 1600-1700 m
Distribution: Kashmir (Srinagar); Native to Japan,
Central China and Myanmar.
Chromosome number: 2n = 24, 28, 34, 36, 54, 56
Specimen examined: Srinagar (1600 m), 29-04-2012,
Anzar A. Khuroo 1975 (KASH).
7. Iris milesii Foster in Gard. Chron., ser. 2. 20: 231
(1883). (Red flower iris).
Roots fleshy. Rhizomes thick, fleshy, greenish, with
distinct nodes, bearing a terminal leafy flowering stem
and two lateral non-flowering leafy stems. The lateral
stems become active shoots for next year's growth thus
the old and the new rhizomes result in a series of
dichotomies. Leaves alternate, grayish green, broadly
ensiform, firm, strongly curved, 40-60 cm long, 2.5-5
cm broad. Flowering stems erect, 2-4-branched, 60-90
cm, leafy proximally; branches 15-20 cm long; spathes
several, 2.5-3.5 × 2-2.5 cm, 3- or 4-flowered. Flowers
pale reddish purple, 7-8 cm in diameter; pedicel 2.5-4
cm long. Perianth tube 1-1.5 cm long; Falls obovate,
marked with dark lines and mottling proximally; crest
orange-yellow; standards narrowly obovate, 4-5 cm
long, apex retuse. Stamens ca. 2.5 cm long; anthers
creamy white. Ovary cylindric, ca. 3 cm long, 3-angled.
Style branches pale reddish purple, ca. 3 cm long.
Capsule ovoid-globose, reticulate veined. Seeds black-
brown, pyriform, with white aril.
Flowering period: May-June
Altitudinal range: 1600- 2700 m
Chromosome number: 2n = 26
Distribution: Kashmir (Aish Muqam, Pulwama),
Ladakh, Udhampur; Pakistan, Afghanistan, China.
Specimens examined: Gool (Udhampur), 23-6-1987,
Ajai Swami 1291 (NC/BSI); Sauziea-Gagriea (2000-
2500 m), 18-9-1985, J. N. Vohra & B. D. Naithani
78377 (NC/ BSI).
8. Iris crocea Jacquem. ex R.C. Foster in Contrib. Gray
Herb. 114: 41 (1936). (German Iris) (Fig. 1. g.).
I. aurea Lindl., Edwards's Bot. Reg. 33: t. 59 (1847)
non Link (1821); I. spuria subsp. aurea Dykes, Gen.
Iris 65 (1913).
Rootstock stout, prostrate, brown. Stems 100-130 cm
high, stout, round, with leafy sheaths. Leaves 60-90 cm
long, erect, stiff, dark green, ribbed, linear-ensiform.
Spathes 7.5-10 cm long, 2-3 flowered. Flowers deep
golden yellow, long stalked. Blade of falls 4-5 cm long,
oblong, as long as claw, tapered, crimpled at margins,
narrowing to 3-3.5 cm long haft; standards 7.5 cm long,
inversely lens-shaped, waved at edges. Style 3.8 cm,
crested; ovary as long as the perianth tube. Capsule 3.5-
4 cm long, oblong, 6-angled, beaked.
Flowering period: June-July
Altitudinal range: 1600-1900 m
Chromosome number: 2n= 40
123 Genus Iris in Kashmir IRAN. J. BOT. 19 (1), 2013
Distribution: Kashmir (Dachigam, Harwan, Gulmarg,
Vishunag, Mudegaum, Pir Panjal); Pakistan, China,
Specimen examined: Matay Gand (1725 m), 9-5-2001,
G. H. Khanday 1202 (KASH).
9. Iris spuria L., Sp. Pl. 39 (1753). (Blue Iris) (Fig. 1.
Xiphion spurium (L.) Alef., Bot. Zeitung (Berlin) 21:
Perennial herb. Rootstock stout, branched, creeping
rhizome; aerial stem erect, stout, 60-100 cm tall,
overtopping the leaves. Leaves linear, 65-75 cm long,
1.25-3 cm broad, stiff, glaucous; spathes green with
scarious tips, erect, 1-3-flowered. Perianth tube up to 2
cm long, funnel shaped. Flowers deep blue to violet
blue with median yellow stripe down the middle of the
falls; pedicel 2-8 cm long. Falls rounded ovate
narrowing sharply into the haft, haft length equal to or
longer than that of blade, with dark purple veins,
orbicular-oblong, 3-8 cm long, 2-3 cm broad,
unbearded; standards oblanceolate, almost vertical, 3-6
long, 1.25 cm broad. Stamens 3; filaments 1-1.5 cm
long, flattened; anthers 2.5 cm long with orange-yellow
pollen grains. Ovary 6-ribbed, the style arms 3, about 3
cm long, with reflexed, triangular crest. Capsule 6-
ribbed, beaked, 3-7 cm in length.
Flowering period: June-July
Altitudinal range: 1400-1800 m
Chromosome number: 2n=44
Distribution: Kashmir (Bijbehara, Pattan, Harwan);
Pakistan, West Asia and Europe.
Specimen examined: Harwan (1700 m), 20-4-1971,
Gurcharan Singh 3339 (KASH).
10. Iris versicolor L., Sp. Pl. 1: 39 (1753). (wild iris,
blue flag) (Fig. 1. i.).
Xiphion versicolor (L.) Alef., Bot. Zeitung (Berlin) 21:
Perennial herb. Rootstock creeping rhizome, freely
branching, forming large clumps, 1-2.5 cm wide. Plants
10-80 cm high. Stems 1–2-branched, solid. Leaves
firm, linear to sword-shaped, prominently veined, 36
cm long 2.5 cm wide, glaucous. Inflorescences
compact, 2–4-flowered; spathe never foliaceous, 3–6
cm, unequal, outer shorter than inner, thickly
chartaceous to scarious, margins shiny, darker in color.
Flowers light-deep blue; perianth tube funnelform,
constricted above ovary, 1–1.2 cm long; falls ovate, up
to 7.5 cm long, hairless, often with a greenish yellow to
green basal spot; standards lanceolate, erect, shorter
than the falls, firm textured, not readily wilting. Ovary
inferior, bluntly angled; style 3–3.5 cm, base not
auriculate, margins entire or toothed, crests reflexed,
0.7–1.5 cm; stigmas unlobed, triangular or rounded-
triangular, margins entire. Capsule 3-celled, ovoid to
oblong-ellipsoid, bluntly angled, conspicuously beaked,
shiny. The seeds are dark brown, D-shaped, shiny and
regularly pitted and relatively thin.
Flowering period: May-July
Altitudinal range: 1600-1800 m
Chromosome number: 2n=108
Distribution: Kashmir (Kashmir University Botanical
Garden, Sopore); native of North America.
Specimen examined: KUBG (1600 m), 16-7-2011,
Chesfeeda Akhter 1303 (KASH).
11. Iris ensata Thunb., Trans. Linn. Soc. London 2:
328 (1794). (Japanese iris; ‘kreshim’) (Fig. 1. j.)
I. kaempferi Siebold ex Lemaire, Ill. Hort. 5: t. 157
(1858); I. kaempferi var. spontanea Makino, Bot. Mag.
(Tokyo) 23: 94 (1909); I. ensata var. spontanea
(Makino) Nakai, Veg. Apoi 78 (1930); I. graminea
Thunb., Fl. Jap. 34 (1784) non L. (1753).
Rhizomes creeping, stout, prostrate. Leaves ensiform,
25-70 cm long, straight, tough with prominent midrib,
margins scarious, apex acuminate, base dark purple.
Aerial stem tufted, short, 20-100 cm high, stout or
slender, bearing a single terminal or lateral head;
spathes 3, unequal, lanceolate, 4-7.5 cm long, 1-3
flowered, veins distinct, raised; basal spathe shorter,
apex usually acute; apical spathe longer, apex usually
obtuse. Flowers lilac or reddish purple; pedicel 1.5-3.5
cm long. Falls and standards often with purplish veins,
stalked. Perianth tube absent or very short; blade of
falls rhomboidly ovate, entire, shorter than the claw,
molted yellow at centre; standards erect, oblanceolate.
Stamens about 3.5 cm long; anthers purple. Ovary
cylindric; style purple, 5 cm long. Capsule ellipsoid, 6-
ribbed, beaked. Seeds reddish-brown, semi orbicular,
Flowering period: May-July
Altitudinal range: 1600-2600 m
Chromosome number: 2n = 24
Distribution: Kashmir (Pulwama, Harwan, K.U.
Campus, Srinagar, Pampore, Kunzer, Tangmarg,
Ganderbal), Ladakh (Leh, Kargil, Nubra, Hemis,
Khalsi); Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and Myanmar.
Specimens examined: Prang (1800 m), 1-5-1983, G. H.
Dar 1207 (KASH); Nunar (1750 m), 5-5-1982, G. H.
Dar 3335 (KASH).
12. Iris lactea Pallas, Reise Russ. Reich. 3:713 (1776).
I. lactea var. chinensis (Fisch.) Koidz., Bot. Mag.
(Tokyo) 39: 300 1925.; I. oxypetala Bunge, Enum. Pl.
China Bor. 63 (1832).
Rootstock stout, creeping rhizome with reddish purple
IRAN. J. BOT. 19 (1), 2013 Chesfeeda Akhtar & al. 124
fibres. Leaves basal, grayish green, linear, 14–70 cm ×
3–7 mm, tough, prominently ribbed, midvein absent.
Flowering stems 5–50 cm; spathes green, lanceolate,
4.5–10 × 0.8–1.6 cm, 2–4-flowered, apex acuminate.
Flowers bluish purple, pale violet, or partly milky white
or yellow; pedicel 4–7 cm long. Perianth tube very
short, up to 3 mm long. Falls clawed, 4.5–5.5 × 0.8–1.2
cm, claw slightly longer than obovate blade; standards
erect, narrowly oblanceolate, 4.2–4.5 cm × 5–7 mm.
Stamens 2.5–3.2 cm long; anthers yellow. Ovary
narrowly fusiform, very long, 3–4.5 cm, grooved,
stigma small, triangular. Capsule narrowly cylindric,
2.5–7.5 cm long, 6-ribbed, apex shortly beaked. Seeds
round smooth maroon-brown, pyriform.
Flowering period: April–June
Altitudinal range: 1500-3300 m
Chromosome number: 2n=40
Distribution: Kashmir (Guraiz); Pakistan and
Afghanistan, China, Central Asia and Korea.
Specimen examined: Chorwan (Guraiz), 10-8-1989,
Naqshi, Showkat & Kachroo 10300 (KASH).
13. Iris reticulata M. Bieb., Fl. Taur.-Caucas. 1: 34
(1808) (Reticulated Iris) (Fig. 1. k.)
Iridodictyum reticulatum (M. Bieb.) Rodion, Rod Iris-
Iris 202 (1961); Xiphion reticulatum (M. Bieb.) Klatt,
Linnaea 34: 572 (1866).
Rootstock slender, underground bulb with reticulate
outer scales. Plants 10-25 cm tall. Leaves 1-3 from
each bulb, quadrangular, folded at midrib, not longer
than flowers, later up to 45 cm long, 1.5-3.0 mm broad.
Aerial stem obsolescent. Flower solitary, violet-
scented. Spathe up to 9.0 cm long, 1-flowered. Pedicel
up to 4.0 cm long. Perianth very variable in colour,
pale blue to violet, purple; perianth tube 4-12 cm long,
mostly covered by spathe; falls ovate, 3.2-5.5 cm long,
1.25 cm wide; haft 2.1-3.8 cm long, darker than rests
of the flower; crests yellow; standards 3-5.2 cm long,
0.5 cm wide, erect, oblanceolate. Stamens with
filaments 1-2cm long; anthers 6-11 mm long. Stylar
branches 3-5 cm long, with lobes 1-1.5 cm long; stigma
deeply bilobed. Capsule 3.0-5.5 cm long, ellipsoid,
shortly beaked, more or less at the ground level. Seeds
Flowering period: February-April
Altitudinal range: 1700-1850 m
Chromosome number: 2n = 20
Specimen examined: Mirbagh (Ratnipur), 4-4- 1999, A.
R. Naqshi 11053 (KASH).
14. Iris ×hollandica Hort. [probable parents: I.
xiphium × I. tingitana] (Dutch iris) (Fig. 1. l.).
Rootstock slender; underground bulb with dark
brownish papery scales. Plants 30-60 cm tall; scape
clothed with broader leaves. Leaves linear, strap-
shaped, longitudinally-parallel-veined, entire, 40-55 cm
long, 0.5-1.5 cm broad, folded at midrib, two ranked,
and overlapping at their bases. Flowers showy, solitary,
blue or purple blue, 7-12 cm long. Perianth tube 4-5 cm
long, ellipsoidal, tapering at ends. Falls purple blue
with yellow lip/splotch near the base, oval-circular,
projecting downwards; standards narrow, erect, lilac
blue. Filaments purplish white, base yellow, 1.5 cm
long; anther 1.2-1.5 cm long, basifixed. Ovary
yellowish green, triangular with depression in centre.
Capsule oblong, many seeded.
Flowering period: April-May
Elevation range: 1600-1700 m
Distribution: Cultivated and naturalized throughout the
world, garden origin.
Specimen examined: Srinagar (1600 m), 20-4-2011,
Chesfeeda Akhter 701(KASH).
Previously, the occurrence of Iris species has been
reported by a number of workers while carrying out the
floristic studies in different localities of the Kashmir
Himalaya (Coventry 1923; Blatter 1928; Stewart 1972;
Sharma & Kachroo 1981; Polunin & Stainton 1984;
Singh & Kachroo 1976; Dhar & Kachroo 1983).
However, there has been no taxonomic clarity on the
number of species of the genus in the region. The
present study for the first time has brought clarity to the
taxonomy of genus Iris in Kashmir Himalaya. Iris
japonica Thunberg, I. versicolor L. and I. hollandica
Hort. are three new records for the flora of Kashmir
Himalaya. Many previous records such as: Iris
tectorum Maxim, Iris albicans Lange, Iris flavescens
DC. are invalid names because of incorrect author
citation. Several species namely: Iris xiphium L., Iris
aitchisonii (Baker) Boiss., Iris pallida Lam. that were
reported by earlier workers (Stewart 1972; Koul 1977;
Zeerak & Wani 2007) have been excluded by the
present investigation. The present study has clarified
the misidentification of the Himalayan endemic
species, Iris kemaonensis Wall. ex D. Don, from the
region. On critical examination of all the herbarium
specimens identified as I. kemaonensis from the region,
it came to be a case of misidentification of I.
hookeriana. The synonymy is also widespread in the
genus, leading to taxonomic confusion, e.g., Iris
nepalensis D. Don and I. aurea Lindl. are variously
used in the taxonomic literature (Blatter 1928; Stewart
1972), however, both are synonyms of I. decora Wall.
and I. crocea, respectively.
The genus is represented by several wild, cultivated
and some endemic species. Several species (e. g. Iris
kashmiriana Baker, I. hookeriana Foster, I.
125 Genus Iris in Kashmir IRAN. J. BOT. 19 (1), 2013
Fig. 1. a. Iris decora; b. I. hookeriana; c. I. variegata; d. I. kashmiriana; e. I. germanica; f. I. japonica; g. I. crocea;
h. I. spuria; i. I. versicolor ; j. I. ensata; k. I. reticulata; l. I. ×hollandica .
IRAN. J. BOT. 19 (1), 2013 Chesfeeda Akhtar & al. 126
milesii Foster, I. crocea Jacq.), that grow wild
throughout the Kashmir Himalaya, are endemic to the
Himalayan region (Dhar and Kachroo, 1983). Majority
of the cultivated irises were introduced as ornamentals
by the Mughals and the Britishers to adorn graveyards
and public parks, many of which have now become
fully naturalized (e.g., I. variegata L., I. germanica L.).
Several cultivated species such as I. germanica show
great phenotypic flexibility mainly because of their
perennial clonal habit and hardy bulbs which can
survive even during harsh winter climate. Some species
such as I. reticulata have been unintentionally
introduced into the region as a satellite weed along with
We are highly thankful to the staff of Centre for
Biodiversity & Taxonomy, University of Kashmir for
rendering help, both in field and herbarium, during the
course of present study.
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-Staples and Staples limited, John Bale, Danielsson,
Coventry, B. O. 1923: Wild flowers of Kashmir.
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Dhar, U. & Kachroo, P. 1983: Alpine Flora of Kashmir
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