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Not sure what an Amoena is?  And what is that "Re" next to an iris name in a catalogue?  Style arms? Spathes?  This is the section for:

Iris Anatomy - Parts of an Iris Flower

Iris Anatomy - Parts of an Iris Plant
Iris Terminology

Iris Abbreviations


Anatomy flower 1

Parts of an Iris flower

Iris plant anatomy

Parts of an Iris Plant

Iris terminology


Below is a guide to the most commonly used terms relating to irises. This list has largely been reproduced from page 53 -54 of The Iris Society of Australia Handbook for Judges.

Amoena: (pronounced uh-mean-uh) An iris flower with white or nearly white standards and falls of any other colour, (e.g. a yellow amoena has white standards and yellow falls).
Anther: The pollen-bearing tip of the stamen. The anther is held on a long stalk (filament) under the style arm, and close against it.
Apogon: This term refers to rhizomatous iris with no beard or crest; beardless iris.
Aril: 1. A small white collar, which is found on the seeds of oncocyclus and regelia irises. It is also found on the seeds of some other iris types, e.g. Iris nepalensis. 2. A species iris or interspecies hybrid belonging to the oncocyclus or regelia groups. The term refers to hybrids between the two groups, as well as to those within a single group.
Arilbred (AB): A hybrid between an aril iris and a eupogon (or true bearded) iris. Arilbred irises usually combine
characteristics of both parents, and have a form that is similar to tall bearded irises. Hybrids which have less than one quarter aril ancestry (or less than one full set of aril chromosomes) are not considered to fit the arilbred classification.
Australian Dykes Medal: The medal awarded annually to the breeder of the iris scoring the highest points in the Australian Dykes Medal test gardens, regardless of type. The medal is awarded at the discretion of the British Iris Society. See also ISA Medal and Dykes Medal.
Axil: The angle formed between a leaf or branch and the stem to which it is attached.
Beard: The bushy strip of hairs on the upper part of the falls of bearded irises. They also occur on the standards of some aril irises.
Bicolour: Any iris flower that has one colour in its standards and another (usually darker) colour in its falls.
Bitone: Iris flowers that have standards and falls of the same colour, but in contrasting (lighter and darker) shades of that same colour. The standards are usually the lighter of the two shades.
Blend: A colour pattern where a mixture of two or more colours occurs in the same parts of the flower.
Bloom out: An iris is said to bloom out when the mature rhizome dies, following flowering, without producing any increases.
Bract: A leaf on the flowering stem inside which a branch or bloom develops.
Branch: A lateral offshoot from the main flower stem.
Broken colour: A “broken colour” flower is a flower of one colour which displays irregular patches of one or more other colours

broken colour.heic

Bud count: The number of bud places on a stem, or total number of flowers that a stem will produce.

Crest: The raised ridge found on the hafts of the falls of evansia iris flowers.
Cultivar: A cultivated variety of a plant. It usually refers to a man-made hybrid.
Deflexed: Bent sharply downwards and outwards.
Diploid: A plant with two sets of chromosomes. The wild forms of most plants are diploid. See also Tetraploid.
Dykes Medal: The highest award an iris can receive. The Dykes Medal is an annual award given in the United Kingdom, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. The Dykes Medal for each country is awarded by the British Iris Society, and is named after William Rickatson Dykes, founder of the British Iris Society. See also Australian Dykes Medal.
Eupogon: Any bearded iris which is not an aril or arilbred iris.
Falls: The three lower parts or sepals of an iris flower. These are the outer parts of the flower when in bud, and may flare horizontally, hang vertically, or be in a position between the two (semi-flaring), when the flower is open.
Fan: The cluster of leaves attached to a single rhizome (in irises, these typically form a fan shape).
Fancy: An extreme plicata-type colour pattern that exhibits a riotous mixture of colours.
Floriferousness: A cultivar’s ability to produce flowers freely, i.e. to produce many buds per stem and/or many stems per clump.
Flounce: A large, wide, petaloid extension of the beard, often fan-shaped or folded into a canoe shape.
Form: The shape of a flower.
Glaciata: A recessive colour pattern which occurs in plicata breeding. Glaciata irises occur in white, yellow, orange or pink shades, with no plicata markings. As glaciatas carry no anthocyanin (blue, purple or rose) pigments whatsoever, they display a glowing clear colour. Formerly referred to as ‘ice-whites’, ‘lemon ices’, etc.
Haft: The part of the standards and falls closest to the centre of the flower. This term is most commonly used to refer to the upper part of the falls, adjacent to the beard or signal.
Historic: An iris introduced at least thirty (30) years ago.
Horn: A short extension of the beard, which may be pointed and hairless.
Increase: The new (baby) rhizomes that a mature rhizome produces in a season. Also called an offset.
Iridaceae: The plant family to which the genus Iris belongs.
ISA Medal: The Iris Society of Australia (ISA) Medal is awarded each year for the top-scoring iris of a different type to that which has received the Australian Dykes Medal, e.g. if a Tall Bearded iris wins the Dykes Medal, the ISA Medal is awarded for the top-scoring beardless iris in the Dykes Medal test gardens, and vice versa.
Luminata: A colour pattern which occurs as a wash of blue, purple, lavender, etc. over a background of white, yellow, orange or pink. The wash tends to be paler or missing from the veins, and absent from the edges of both standards and falls. Both the beard and a clearly defined area around it have no blue/purple colouration. Style arms also have little or no blue/purple colouration. The luminata pattern may be thought of as being almost the reverse of the plicata pattern, and is genetically related to it.

Luminata-plicata: Luminata-plicata is the term given to flowers where both the luminata colour pattern and the plicata one occur simultaneously. In most cases the resulting flower is totally, but unevenly, patterned or marked.

Median: the word “median” refers to all the bearded irises except the miniature dwarfs and the tall beardeds. It refers to an iris that is between 20cm and 70cm tall.
Midrib: The central part of a standard or fall.
Neglecta: An iris which has light blue standards and darker blue or purple falls. May also be classified as a blue bitone.

Dangerous Mood 5.11.14JPG.JPG

Novelty: An iris which displays an unusual feature of flower or foliage, e.g. flat flower shape, broken colour blooms or variegated foliage.
Oncocyclus: One of the two main groups of aril species. Often abbreviated as “onco”.
Ovary: The female part at the base of the iris flower, which contains the ovules (potential seeds) and which develops after fertilization into the seed pod.
Perianth: In iris flowers, the collective term for the standards and falls.
Perianth tube: The tube at the base of the iris flower, which connects the standards and falls to the ovary. Also known as the perigone tube.
Petals: The standards of an iris flower.
Plicata: A colour pattern which occurs in many variations, but is commonly seen as dotting and/or stitching around the edges of the falls and/or standards. The dotting or stitching occurs in shades of blue, purple, lavender, etc. contrasting with a background colour of white, yellow, orange or pink. There may also be dots or stripes along the veins. Plicatas always have markings on the hafts of the falls, and alongside the beards.

Smokin Heights plicata_edited_edited.jpg

Pogon: A bearded iris.

Regelia: One of the two main groups of aril species. In most regions, the regelias are stronger garden subjects than the oncocyclus species.

Reblooming Iris (RE): An iris which blooms more than once in the same growing season (e.g. in spring and again before the following spring). Rebloom which occurs immediately after spring bloom is known as ‘repeat’ bloom.

Reflexed: Reflexed falls are those which bend abruptly downward and inward.

Reverse amoena: A bearded iris flower with coloured standards, and falls which are white or nearly white.

Reverse bicolour: A bicolour flower where the standards are a different, darker colour to the falls.

Reverse bitone: This term is sometimes used to refer to bitone flowers where the standards are a darker shade than the falls.

Self: 1. A flower with standards and falls of the same colour. 2. In hybridizing, self-pollination (the placing of a flower’s pollen on its own stigmas).

Sepals: The falls of an iris flower.

Signal: 1. A marking, usually in yellow, white or orange on the falls of beardless irises, located where the beard is found in bearded irises. 2. An area of contrasting (usually darker) colour at the end of the beard on the falls of many arils and arilbreds.

Socket: The area supporting the flower buds.

Space-Age Iris (SA): Bearded irises which have appendages known as horns, spoons or flounces at the end of the beard.

Spathe: A small leaf enclosing a bud or group of buds. Irises often have inner and outer spathes. Spathes may be green and fleshy or dry and papery.

Species: A naturally occurring, visually distinct plant which is not a hybrid.

Spoon: An elongated petaloid extension of the beard, which widens near the end into a spoon shape.

Stamen: The male part of the flower. It comprises the pollen-bearing anther, and the thin stalk (filament) which supports it.

Standards: The three upper petals of an iris flower. These are usually broad and erect, and are the inner petals of the flower when in bud.

Stigma: The pollen-receiving part of the flower’s female organs. The stigmatic lip sits at the top of the style arm.

Stolon: A slender, elongated horizontal stem which creeps along the ground as an extension from an iris rhizome, and produces new plants.

Style arms: The three slender petal-like structures situated in the heart of an iris flower. They are located between the standards and above the falls.

Substance: The inner tissue structure of the flower, which determines its longevity, and maintains its form and colour.

Terminal: The terminal bud is the bud situated at the highest flowering place on the stem.

Tetraploid: A plant with four sets of chromosomes. See also Diploid.

Texture: A flower’s surface characteristic, e.g. silky, velvety, leathery, tough, smooth, etc. Texture influences colour impact as it reflects or absorbs light.

Variegata: An iris which has yellow standards and falls of red, brown or purple. The name is derived from the tall-bearded species Iris variegata which has yellow standards and falls with variable reddish-brown veining.

Variety: 1. A cultivated plant with an identifying common name (i.e. a cultivar). 2. Botanically, a group of individuals within a species which are sufficiently distinct to merit a Latin varietal name.

Vigour: An iris plant’s capacity for survival or strong healthy growth and rate of increase.

Iris abbreviations


  • E - Early blooming iris

  • F - Falls

  • M - Mid-season bloomer

  • L - Late season bloomer

  • Plic - Plicata

  • RE - Rebloomer

  • S - Standards

  • SA - Space Ager

  • PBF - Purple based foliage (see image below)

  • TB - Tall bearded

  • IB - Intermediate bearded

  • BB - Border bearded

  • SDB - Standard dwarf bearded

  • MDB - Miniature dwarf bearded

  • SIB - Siberian iris

  • PCI - Pacific coast iris

  • LA - Louisiana

  • SPU - Spuria

  • AB - Aril

  • HC - Highly commended (Trial garden award)

  • HM - Honourable mention (Trial garden award

  • NOID - No ID. An iris which may or may not be a registered named variety which has lost its name tag and is unable to have a name accurately placed on it.

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