The term "Japanese iris" encompasses three species of Irises cultivated in gardens or growing wild in Japan: hanashōbu (Iris ensata), kakitsubata (Iris laevigata) and ayame (Iris sanguinea). Of these three species, I. ensata is the one most commonly referred to as "Japanese iris" outside of Japan.
The bluish purple color of the flowers of the Japanese garden iris is an example of the copigmentation phenomenon.
Iris ensata (including Iris kaempferi
The Hanashōbu (ハナショウブ, 花菖蒲, Iris ensata var. ensata, syn. I. ensata var. hortensis I. kaempferi) grows in the wet land and is the most extensively cultivated variety in Japanese gardens. According to the place where it was cultivated, it is classified into the Edo (Tokyo), Higo (Kumamoto Prefecture), Ise (Mie Prefecture), American (U.S.A.) and other series. It is extensively grown in gardens throughout the temperate zones. Several cultivars have been selected, of which 'Rose Queen' and 'Variegata' have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
The Kakitsubata (link to article in Japanese) (カキツバタ, 杜若, Iris laevigata) grows in the semi-wet land and is less popular, but is also cultivated extensively.
It is a prefectural flower of Aichi Prefecture due to the famous tanka poem which is said to have been written in this area during the Heian period, as it appears in The Tales of Ise by Ariwara no Narihira (note that the beginning syllables are "ka-ki-tsu-ha (ba)-ta"):
Tsuma shi areba,
Tabi o shizo omou
I have come so far away on this trip this time and think of my wife that I left in Kyoto
Kakitsubata at Ōta Shrine, Kyoto, is a National Natural Treasure. It was already recorded in a tanka by Fujiwara Toshinari also in the Heian period:
Kamiyama ya ōta no sawa no kakitsubata
Fukaki tanomi wa iro ni miyu ramu
Like the kakitsubata at Ōta Wetland, a God-sent heaven, my trust in you can be seen in the color of their flowers.
The Ayame (アヤメ, 菖蒲, 文目, Iris sanguinea) is the iris typically growing wild on the dry land in Japan.
||Color of flower
||Feature of flower
||Red purple, purple, etc.
||Shows no net
||Early June - late June
||Blue, purple, white, etc.
||Shows no net
||In water or wet land
||mid-May - late May
||Purple, rarely white
||Main artery not clear
||Early May - Mid-June
Note: Sweet flag, called Shōbu (ショウブ, 菖蒲) in Japanese, is a plant belonging to the family Acoraceae, genus Acorus, known for its fragrant roots, rather than its flowers.
Thu, 22 Jan 2015 05:52:30 -0800
This works where water drains slowly, not where water pools for months at a time. Just be aware that bog garden plants do need some drainage and air around their roots. Japanese iris and several varieties of primrose not only do well, they thrive and ...
The Seattle Times
Thu, 18 Sep 2014 06:18:45 -0700
Although these gorgeous irises are hardy to minus 30 degrees, they also are demanding to grow and won't perform well unless you provide the perfect conditions. The No. 1 requirement is moist soil and a sunny location. Japanese iris does best planted ...
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 00:16:05 -0700
One of my favorite water garden plants isn't a water lily or even a plant that's sold at most water gardening stores. But it thrives in the water and even survives the New England winter submerged in my pond. It's Japanese iris (Iris ensata) — a tall ...
Monroe News Star
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 13:03:45 -0700
The most common iris types growing in Louisiana landscapes are the bearded iris (Iris germanica), Japanese iris (Iris ensata), Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) and the Louisiana iris (Iris spp.). Bearded iris is a hardy, long-lived perennial that require ...
San Jose Mercury News
Wed, 15 Oct 2014 15:42:54 -0700
Alternatives: Canna species, Japanese iris, laevigata iris. Green fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum). Alternatives: Oriental fountaingrass, Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum,' 'Skyrocket,' 'Fireworks' and 'Fairy Tails,' purple fountaingrass, California ...
Fri, 09 May 2014 16:08:50 -0700
Siberian irises can be successfully grown in Colorado. They are hardier than either the German bearded or Japanese iris, both in withstanding severe climatic conditions and in withstanding the competition of other plants. Our garden varieties of ...
Westchester Magazine (blog)
Westchester Magazine (blog)
Mon, 15 Sep 2014 07:39:21 -0700
Johnsen dubbed it the “philosopher's hut” and planted low-maintenance cottage bloomers such as Japanese iris, peonies, and Stachys “Hummelo” with limbed-up trees all around to reveal the view from all angles. So the outward-bound family now has a ...
The Edwardsville Intelligencer
Tue, 15 Jul 2014 10:02:56 -0700
... hydrangea, peonies, coral bells, lily-of-the-valley, elephant ears, cannas, Japanese iris, hibiscus, hosta, ferns, grasses, and more to achieve a cottage garden feel. As a result of the natural landscape plantings, there are regular sightings of ...
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