Chimeras in the Garden
I noticed the iris in the image to the left one day and wondered what
had caused one of my usually mauve irises to become a bicolored mauve
and cream iris. I asked the nice people at
ba.gardens for information, and Sean O'Hara
responded with the following.
Looks like a chimeric sport in the making. A chimera is when only a
portion of the growing tip mutates, making for a mixture of different
tissue, in this case, some producing cream flowers, some producing
mauve. 'Chimera' was the name of a mythological beast with a human
head, a lions body, and the wings of an eagle - alluding to a mixture
of 'tissues'. Many variegated plants are chimeras, which is why they
can tend to revert to all green or occasionally all yellow/white.
Those cultivars with highly twisted stems (e.g. 'Corkscrew Willow') are
also chimeras, with one type of tissue growing slower than the other.
Yours is more subtle, apparently only detectable when in flower.
It is likely that your plant might be a selected mutation anyway, and
is now tending to mutate 'back' to the 'parent' plant. It would be
interesting to watch the plant and try and separate our this portion
to watch more closely. It is best to transplant/divide these native
beauties in the fall when cooler weather starts to approach (otherwise
you can easily lose the plant). Both colors seem like some I've seen
in the trade, but then you never know what might happen - you could
end up with a completely new form to add to the hundreds of other irises
in the world! ;-)
7749 hits since September 2, 1999