Iris Family – Iridaceae

The family is named after the Greek goddess Iris who carried messages from Olympus to Earth along a rainbow. The Iris genus was named by Linnaeus to reflect the multi-coloured petals of some of the species. The Iris family has 66 genera and over 2000 species in two main sub-families Crocoideae (Crocus, Crocosmia, Gladiolus and Freesia) and Iridoideae (Iris and Sisyrinchium). Grows from a bulb, rhizome (Iris) or corm(Crocus and Gladiolus). Iris flowers look complex but have the same basic structure as the Crocus, which has 6 tepals (petals) arranged as an inner set of three and an outer set of three. All flowers in this family have only 3 stamens and one style which is usually 3-branched as shown by the Crocosmia.

Sweet Iris flower

 Sweet Iris Iris pallida

Early Crocus flower

Early Crocus Crocus tommasinianus flowers in February and March. It is native to Eastern Europe and is planted in many gardens and parks in Britain.

Crocosmia Lucifer flower

Crocosmia, also known as Montbretia, are widely cultivated as perennial garden plants. There are over 400 varieties. ‘Lucifer’, shown above is an Alan Bloom hybrid (Crocosmia x curtonus). Crocosmia is a genus or about 7 species of cormous (grown from corms) plants from grasslands in South Africa.