Sunday, March 3, 2013

Historic Tall Bearded Iris AMAS

I think it is very important to show the great historic game changers that made a real contribution in the evolution of the Tall Bearded Iris. Sir Michael Foster's chief work was to introduce to the older varieties of bearded Irises the blood of newly discovered tetraploid irises and 'Amas' became a important variety within this change process. These tetraploid's gave hybridisers better branching, larger flowers, and hybrid vigour.

Biltmore Nursery, Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina, The Iris Catalog, 1911.
Amas. Deep violet standards and sky-blue falls give glorious harmony in this giant-flowering variety, which originated in Asia Minor and which has won admiration wherever it has become known. It reaches a height of 2 feet, and flowers profusely.

The Genus Iris , William Rickatson Dykes, 1913.
The Pogoniris Section.
Var. Amas (syn. macrantha) rhizomes of this form were sent to Foster in 1885 from Amasia in northern Asia Minor. It is the sturdiest, though not the tallest, of all the germanica forms and one of the most distinct, for its leaves remain quite short in the winter, behaving in fact more like those of I.pallida. The tube is 1 in. long and slickly covered with broken purple streaks; the spathe valves become very nearly wholly scarious by the time the flowers expand. The standards are almost oblicular of a very light blue purple and bear a few scattered yellow tipped hairs on the deeply channelled haft. The falls are of a deep purple with a broad beard of blueish white hairs tipped with Orange.

Illustrated Catalog of The Dean lris Gardens, Growers and Importers of Choice Iris, 1914, Moneta, California.
Amas (syn. Macrantha). A handsome giant flowered form from Asia Minor. S. rich blue; F. violet. 2 feet.

Société Nationale D'horticulture de France, Commission des Iris.
Les Iris Cultivés : Actes et comptes-rendus de la 1re Conférence internationale des Iris, tenue à Paris en 1922

How I obtained Vigour and Branching Habit by George Yeld
Professor Foster also sent me a plant which he called 'Amasia' (now well known as macrantha). I shall never forget the day when it flowered, for I recognised at once that it would be an excellent iris for my purpose. He also sent me asiatica, now known as trojana. When seeking to increase my stock of this plant I have on various occasions received what I have known as 'Kaharput' instead of it.
I used all these three varieties and my first seedling cypriana crossed with Amasia (pollen parent) which I called Arac, after the giant brother of Princess Ida, in Tennyson's "Princess" was shown at the Drill Hall, Westminster, on June 19, 1900, though it failed to fine favour with the R.H.S. Floral Committee. It has the large blossoms and branching habit which we now see in so many Irises.
I raise a good many similar flowers, but it was not till June 10, 1902, that asiatica crossed with macrantha (pollen parent) shown under the name of Sarpedon, obtained an Award of Merit from the R.H.S.

Bulletin of The American Iris Society, Description of Varieties, Part 2, Number 7, January 1923
AMAS 78 (21) (Germanica)
Bicolor, R-V. (d). Col. by Foster, 1885
Brief. Large; early; light hyssop violet; F. smooth petunia violet; stalk low and very well-branched; growth vigorous; 30 in.
Details. Standards very finely veined, floppy; beard bluish white, orange tipped
Remarks. One of the best germanicas, the parent of 'Oriflame' and many other large hybrids. The pollen only is fertile. As a parent it carries its size, height, often its color and poor substance. Named from Amasia in Asia Minor. Syn. Macrantha.

Memoir 100: A study of Pogoniris Varieties, Austin W.W. Sand, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, 1925.
Amas (Native of Amasia, Northern Asia Minor. Collected by Foster, in 1885). Rating 78.
Color effect blue and violet bicolor; Size large; form long, open, rounded; flowering habit free; tall bearded class; height 28 in; branching wide, low. A flower of poor substance ; frail texture; smooth surface; good fragrance; As a parent it carries its size, height, and often its color and poor substance.
S. light violet, reticulated olive brown on claw;carriage floppy, over arched ; Blade fiddle form, notched, undulate, ruffled and frilled, revolute, smooth; size 2¾ in. wide, 3¼ in. long; F. hyacinth violet, with slight velvety sheen, outer haft is lavender or ecru--drab, finely veined, reticulations olive brown waxy along beard; carriage drooping; shape ovulate to wedge shaped, convex; smooth; size 2¾ in. wide, 3¼ in. long; minor parts; Beard fine dense, projecting, bluish cast tipped yellow; haft very broad, channeled; reticulations broad, widely spaced; style branches broad, overarching, keeled, lavender; Crest large, fringed; pollen plentiful; spathe valves entirely scarious, inflated. Growth vigourous; increase rapid; habit compact; foliage stiff, leaves broad, deep glaucous green; floriferous; stalk erect, with 9 buds.
This variety is conspicuous in colour, size and bloom, and early flowering. The floppy character of the standards is offset by their large size. One of the parents of Oriflamme.

David Austin, Albrighton,  Wolverhampton, Handbook of Hardy Plants and Irises, 1st Edition 1984
amas (Foster 1885) This is a collected variation of iris germanica, which played an important role in the development of tall Bearded hybrids. A sturdy plant with falls of deep purple and rounded standards of a paler purple. White beard. Flowers with tall bearded varieties. 3ft. (90cm).

The Iris, Brian Mathew. 2nd. Edition, 1989.
The Species of Iris.
There are several named variants of I.germanica which one might encounter in literature and/or gardens
Iris germanica 'Amas' (Syn. var. macrantha) 'Amas' is a sturdy variant with deep blue-purple falls and rounder paler blue standards. There is a very prominent beard of blueish white hairs tipped with orange. Dykes writes that the leaves die away and do not start to develop until spring. It was introduced to cultivation from the town of Amasya in northern Turkey.

Proceedings of an International Symposium, Missouri Botanical Garden, 1995.
Symposium Special Reports

The Tall Bearded Iris Species by Philip W. Edinger.
"Amas" (Syn. Macrantha). botanists may raise their eyebrows at my inclusion of this as a tetraploid species, but I suggest it should be regarded as a selected clone of a species yet-undetermined. It was collected in Amasya, Turkey,where it may or may not have been indigenous; originally it was regarded as another "germanica" (despite obvious differences) which prevented it's being looked upon as a distinct individual on par with the other large tetraploids from Turkey and the Near East. Only flower colors, lavender and purple, suggest a "germanica" affinity. Conspicuously different are branching ( lower and longer) and foliage that is winter-dormant rather than winter-growing. Only as turn-of-the-century breeders discovered its fertility was it realised that this was indeed, a "germanica" of a very different stripe. Its first generation offspring include some of the finest of early tetraploid garden irises, e.g. "Ambassadeur", "Dominion", "Lent A. Williamson", "Lord of June","Oriflamme", "Souv. de Mme. Gaudichau".
As a garden subject, this is one of two tetraploids I would truly recommend. Individual blossoms are broad petalled, pleasingly proportioned, and present an appealing contrast of lighter standards over darker falls in colour that are clear rather than streaked, blotched, or muddy. Stems reach about 2½ feet tall, growing from stout, vigourous rhizomes. Unlike many of these Near Easterners, growth is easy in humid summer/cold winter climates; because of this, it was the tetraploid most used by the Sass Bros. in Nebraska.

Irises, A Gardener's Encyclopedia, Claire Austin, 2005.
Iris germanica 'Amas' (M. Foster, 1885) Asia Minor.
This tetraploid, once known as Iris germanica var.macrantha, was used in the early twentieth century as a parent of many modern tall bearded irises. The flowers have blue-purple standards. White veins appear on the hafts, and the pale blue beards are tipped with yellow. Height 70cm (28 in.) Bloom: early season.

AIS Checklist 1929
AMAS TB-B3M (Coll-Fos-1885-Amasia) Journal of Royal Horticultural Society 15; 3; October 1889.Dammann 1895; Farr 1912; Francis 1920; Wing 1920; Berry 1929; Class IVb H.C. R.H.S. 1916.

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Photo credit and copyright Iris Hunter.


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