History of the Dutch Iris

There are some 260 Iris varieties in existence and Dutch Iris (Iris hollandica) is one of the most well-known in the cut flower industry. They feature bright blooms atop narrow, strong stems and foliage, with six exquisite petals --three sturdy, graceful upright "standards" and three larger, downward-curving "falls," which are typically marked with a contrasting yellow to orange patch. Three style arms in the center lay atop the falls. On 'Telstar', the standards are deep purplish blue-violet while the falls are blue-violet to medium blue. A white-edged yellow blotch decorates each fall.

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History of Dutch Iris

In 1564, a pioneering Flemish botanist, Charles de l'Ecluse (aka Clusius) traveled to Spain where he found the blue Iris xiphium.  He was so taken with these flowers that he gathered some bulbs to send back home to Belgium, where they were planted in gardens and hybridized (though many of those initial new varieties have disappeared).

irishistory

A few centuries later, the Spanish Iris xiphium had made it to the Netherlands and the Dutch bulb firm, Van Tubergen, crossed it with Iris tingitana, which had originally hailed from North Africa.  The resulting hybrid produced larger and broader flowers than its two parents and was also able to bloom earlier.  This became known as the "Dutch Iris," or Iris hollandica.

Over the following years, the Iris hollandica was crossed with other varieties to include more cultivars and colors (the yellow was particularly developed)  After World War II, bulbs stock were exported to the United States for commercial production, which mainly took place (and still does) in the Pacific Northwest.

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One of the most recognizable Dutch irises today is the Telstar Iris, which has blue flower color, long stems, excellent response to forced flower production, as well as incredible lasting qualities.

 Telstar Iris

Telstar Iris