Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Iris germanica L.

Fully-hardy, rhizomatous bearded iris with fans of sometimes evergreen, grey-green leaves and sparsely branched stems bearing blue-violet flowers with yellow beards, in early spring.  To 1.2m, usually smaller.  Many varieties of Iris germanica exist, a number are included in the Camden Park catalogues.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘Native of Germany, Switzerland, Dauphiny, and Italy, growing in uncultivated spots and on old walls; [the variety] beta is found near Halle, the stem of this is scarcely the length of one’s finger and about the length of the leaves, yet sufficiently distinct from Iris pumila.  Desfontaines found the species in Algiers.

The commonest Iris in our gardens, where it flowers in May and June, is perfectly hardy, and to be propagated by dividing its roots in Autumn; seldom seeds. 

Cultivated here by Gerarde in 1596.  Clusius oberves that in his time it was much less frequently met with in the gardens of Austria and Hungary than Iris sambucina, and that he procured a supply of seeds for them from the Low Countries.

A pigment, chiefly used by miniature painters, called Verdelis, Vert d’iris or Iris-green, is made from its flowers, which are macerated and left to putrify, when chalk or alum is added.’  [BM t.670/1803]. 

‘An ornamental species, growing one and a half feet in height, with broad lanceolate leaves, and numerous large, conspicuous, pale azure-blue flowers, from four to six inches in diameter, forming an elegant object in the medium foreground of select shrubberies or flower borders.’  [Gard. Chron. 1854].  Introduced to Britain in 1573.  [JD].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [B.235/1843].


Published Oct 31, 2009 - 04:50 PM | Last updated Jul 23, 2010 - 05:35 PM

Illustrated is an iris with grey-green leaves and blue flowers with yellow beards.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.670, 1803.

Iris germanica L. | BM t.670/1803 | BHL

Family Iridaceae
Region of origin

Unknown in the wild and probably of Mediterranean garden origin

Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Iris Germanica 

Confidence level high