Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Lemon Iris

At the moment, the local ponds are providing a fine display of Yellow Flag(Iris pseudacorus, left). This is a spectacular plant only spoiled by its very short flowering period. The golden yellow flowers brighten up even the dullest June day.

Even better, in this area we are lucky enough to be able to find the much paler lemon-yellow version (below) that goes under various names including the descriptive I.pseudacorus v.pallidiflava or less obvious v. bastardii. If anything this is even more beautiful than the type species appearing almost ethereal in comparison.

It seems to be a bit of a N.E.Surrey specialty occurring in a number of ponds around here although in Lousley's flora of Surrey it is only reported from a single site in Epsom. So far I have failed to find little details of it growing elsewhere.

The origin of this plant around here is something of a mystery. There is a pale variety that has been in cultivation since being introduced from the USA early in the 19th century but equally it was reported in the wild (not in Surrey) in the early 18th century by no less an authority than John Ray. It has also been recorded in Middlesex in the more recent past.

I would be interested to know if anyone out there has seen this plant elsewhere.


  1. Haven't seen any of the pale variety around Sandown; they do appear more restful on the eye. My morning walk takes me past an area of the usual bright yellow sort - very popular with Hairy-footed flower bees at present.

  2. Rob, more restful on the eye is spot on!

  3. Late to the party, but the species is a bad weed of wetlands here in Seattle. I know where there is a dispersed population of pale yellow to almost translucent white ones one Lake Washington accessible from canoe from the University of Washington.