The genus, Iris Tourn ex L, was described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. Mr. Linnaeus gave credit to Joseph Pitton de Tournefort for first naming and describing the genus.
Plants of the World Online lists 306 species in the Iris genus (as of2-1-21 when I last updated this page). It is a member of the plant family Iridaceae with 69 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made.
The name Iris comes from the Greek word for a rainbow. It is also the of the Greek goddess of the rainbow.
Besides being the genus name, Iris is also used in the common name for most species.
Iris grow from rhizomes or bulbs, depending on the species. The rhizomatous species produce sword-shaped leaves while the bulbous species produce cylindrical leaves.
The genus is complicated and there are many natural hybrids (hence the number of infraspecific names). The species and hybrids have been divided into subgroups (subgenera). Six subgroups are recognized with 12 sections, then 16 series…. GEEZ!!! You can find more information by reading this article on Wikipedia. The APG system (plant classifications) upgrades which changes things a bit and scientific names get updated on occasion as well. The information on Wikipedia says it was updated in January 2021, but it says the same thing it did in 2018.
While there are few sights so spectacular as a group of Iris in flower, once it is over you have to wait until the next season for more. All you have left are the plain blades sticking up. Of course, that is great for the plant because they are needed for the underground tubers to remain alive. If you are like me, though, y0u need to plant your Iris among other plants for a season of flowers and other types of foliage.
Until I moved to Mississippi, about the only Iris I had experience with were Bearded Iris and Dutch Iris. In Mississippi, the mansion had a large bed of Yellow Flag (Iris pseudacorus) along the driveway.
The biggest treat, however, was finding a patch of Iris fulva in the backyard. I brought some of them with me when I moved back to the family farm in mid-Missouri in February 2013. Luckily they survived and are doing well.
I bought a few rhizomes of the Iris x violipurpurea ‘Black Gamecock’ and bulbs of a Dutch Iris from an Ebay seller in 2009. The ‘Black Gamecock’ survived and I brought them with me when I moved back to the family farm in Missouri. The Dutch Iris did not survive after a couple of years, though. For some reason, I don’t have any photos of them.
There are so many different Iris cultivars it isn’t funny. Whether you like Bearded Iris, Japanese Iris, Siberian Iris, etc. There are just so many! Thank goodness there is a lot of very good information on the internet.
Below are links to many sources of information and rhizomes: