A. Bezzi, N. Aiello, S. Villa, C. Bicchi, P. Rubiolo
The genus Iris includes many spontaneous and cultivated species. The "Flora d'Italia" by PIGNATTI lists fifteen italian spontaneous species and among them we have:
  • Iris florentina L. with white flowers, of Arabian origin, symbol of the city of Florence; cultivated in Tuscany during the past centuries, it has now become wild;
  • Iris cengialti Ambrosi (Iris pallida Auct.) with blue-violaceous or violaceous-purple flowers, probably of Asia Minor origin, widespread in the Balkan peninsula and present in Italy and Yugoslavia with different populations;
  • Iris germanica L., with violet flowers and cultivated for ornamental purposes (PIGNATTI, 1982).

The "Flora Europaea" by TUTIN incorporates the taxa mentioned above in two species:

  • Iris germanica L. including the florentina Dykes variety, the latter has white flowers and is cultivated in Italy.
  • Iris pallida Lam. with pallida and cengialti subspecies (TUTIN et alii, 1980).

From the above we can understand the real difficulties in determing the iris species cultivated, which are generally hybrids derived from some species such as pumila, lutescens, aphylla, variegata and albicans.

For a long time iris cultivation has been practised in Italy for medicinal and ornamental purposes.

Now the iris species cultivated in Italy for medicinal and aromatic purposes are two: that with light violet flowers, very valuable, cultivated especially in the Chianti area, presumed to belong to Iris pallida and that with dark violet flowers, less valuable, cultivated in the Verona region, presumed to belong to Iris germanica. Therefore important production centers are two: the Chianti area in Tuscany, with approximately eighty hectares and a production of 100 tonnes per year of dried rhizomes; the Veneto region with approximately twenty hectares and a production of 25 tonnes per year of dried rhizomes. Nearly all the italian production is sell in France, where it is utilized by the perfume industry.

Concerning the ornamental purposes we have to say that the iris Society of Florence organizes expositions every year where it awards prizes to the best varieties.

Bezzi, A., Aiello, N., Villa, S., Bicchi, C. and Rubiolo, P. (1993). PRODUCTIVITY AND QUALITY OF RHIZOMES OF SOME DIFFERENT TYPES OF IRIS SP. (*). Acta Hortic. 344, 98-109
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1993.344.11

Acta Horticulturae