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 versicolor L.

Rhizomatous Iris with somewhat glaucous leaves and terminal clusters of claret-purple flowers.  To 60cm.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘A native of Virginia, Maryland, and Pensylvania, has a perennial root, is hardy, and will thrive in almost any soil or situation; may be increased by parting its roots in autumn.  Our plant is the picta of Miller, and the versicolor of Miller is, we believe, the sibirica of Linnaeus.  This species has, for the most part, a stalk unusually crooked or elbowed, by which it is particularly distinguished.  It flowers in June, as do most of this beautiful tribe.’  [BM t.21/1790].  BM t.703/1804 as Iris virginica Gron.

History at Camden Park

Iris versicolor is marked with a ‘c’ in an 1836 edition of Loddiges’ catalogue held at Camden Park [CPA].  In William Macarthur’s code, used and explained elsewhere, this means grown at Camden.  It is almost certain that it was grown in the gardens around this time but may have been short lived as it did not appear in the catalogues.


Iris versicolor Thunb. (1784) = Iris laevigata Fisch.

Published Nov 19, 2009 - 02:37 PM | Last updated Jul 23, 2010 - 05:15 PM

Figured are glaucous, lance-shaped leaves and claret, purple and white flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.21, 1790.

Iris versicolor L. | BM t.21/1790 | BHL

Family Iridaceae
Region of origin

North America

  • Iris virginica Gron.
Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Iris versicolor 

Confidence level high