Iris Family – Iridaceae
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 anthers and one style which is usually 3-branched. They provide nectar for pollinators.
In the Iris the 3 outer petals have become dark blue ‘falls’ with yellow ‘beard’ and white guide lines and the 3 inner petals have become light blue ‘standards’. The 3 styles have become petal-like branches which in this photo hide the yellow pollen-generating anthers
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).
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.
Freesia is a genus of 14 species of perennial flowering plants native to the eastern side of southern Africa.