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Publications

red Iris nelsonii (Abbeville Red) yellow Iris nelsonii
Red and yellow Abbeville iris (I. nelsonii)

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ABBEVILLES
C. W. Arny, Jr1

Bulletin of the American Iris Society, #150, July 1958
Webmaster's note: This historic article was written by Charles Arny, one of the premier Louisiana iris hybridizers of the 20th century. Arny outlines the importance of the recently discovered "Abbeville Iris" to the early hybridizers of Louisiana iris. Eight years after this article was written, the Abbevile Iris were shown to be stabilized hybrid species and named Iris nelsonii by Professor L. F. Randolf.

The most important factor resulting in the development of fine present day Louisiana iris has been the use of the giant fulva type, commonly referred to as the Abbeville, as breeding material.

Those giants were discoverd by Mr. W. B. MacMillan in a swampy area south of Abbeville, Louisiana about 1940.

The Abbevilles vary in height of growth about two feet to possibly four feet. The flowers of this group of iris have thick leathery almost overlapping petals and sepals of varying size and shape. The color of these iris ranges from yellow to crimson.

Style-arms are short with the tips of the anthers sometimes extending beyond the ends of these arms. The signals are usually a yellow line. Many times no crest is found at all.

The foliage is yellowish green with leaves that have a tendency to droop near their ends.

Flower stems are straight to slightly curved and taller than the leaves of the plant. It is not uncommon to find branched stems. Flower buds are found in pairs at the nodes.

Examination of early registrations indicate that relatively few registered Louisiana iris were anything but collected species or their hybrids. In other words, breeding of Louisiana iris had not really made a start prior to the times these Abbevilles were found.

Evidence of the significance of this group of iris can be obtained from the study of the pedigees since the discovery of the Abbevilles.

A list of recent favorites, might include the following of which pedigrees are available and printed below. The pollen parent is listed in the top section of all the brackets, the pod parent below.

Iris that are believed to have a Abbeville background appear in red.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________




{

Unknown



Peggy Mac



Varieties



Haile Selassie: collected probably an Abbevile x I. brevicaulis cross

Ella B. Davis

{




Royal Velour




Sara Gladney



{

Caroline Dormon



Roses and Wine





Contrast, a collected, non-

Abbeville bicolor hybrid

________________________________________________________________________________________________________





{

Unknown



Peggy Mac





Haile Selassie


{




Bayou Glory








{

Unknown



Bayou Sunset





Believed to have Abbeville Red as one parent.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________


{

Cardinalis, a collected Abbeville red

The Kahn



Haile Selassie: collected probably an Abbevile X I. brevicaulis cross

________________________________________________________________________________________________________



{

Old Coral, collected Abbeville red.

Violet Ray



Large Purple, collected giganticaerulia type believed to be



an Abbeville red X I. giganticaerulia


________________________________________________________________________________________________________


{

Peggy Mac

Rose of Abbeville


Old Coral, collected Abbeville red.



________________________________________________________________________________________________________


{

Violet Ray

Wheelhorse



Rose of Abbeville

________________________________________________________________________________________________________




{

Swamp Giant,

G.C x Abbeville Red



Seedling





Plum Good, unknown



Charjoy

{










{

Unknown



Peggy Mac





Haile Selassie

________________________________________________________________________________________________________






{

Bayou Sunset



Signal, unregistered





Peggy Mac



Chuck

{










{

Believed to be Signal



Butter Brickle





Peggy Mac


________________________________________________________________________________________________________


{

Blue G.C. Seedling (Holley Blue?, collected G.C.)

Dora Day



Bayou Sunset

________________________________________________________________________________________________________


{

Dora Day

Puttytat



Dora Day

________________________________________________________________________________________________________



{

B-4-12 Abbeville red

Cherry Bounce



Contrast (Not Abbeville type, collected bicolor

________________________________________________________________________________________________________



{

Maringouin Fulva (Maringouinn yellow fulva) x I. brevicaulis

Dixie Deb



Lockett's Luck, collected non-Abbeville hybrid with fairly wide segments.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________



{

Dixie Deb

Delta Country



Maringouin Fulva (Maringouin yellow fulva) x Kramer yellow ( probably fulva x

gianticaerulia in an advanced stage)
________________________________________________________________________________________________________

From examination of this data, a number of interesting and important suggestions are noted. Peggy Mac is the most important single iris in the development of these fine Louisiana iris. If Haile Selassie is truly a parent of Peggy Mac, then this honor goes to Haile Selassie. We cannot be sure that Haile Selassie is a parent of Peggy Mac. Second, there is a predominance of the so-called Abbeville blood in most of the iris listed.

All of the following varieties have the Abbeville form to the extent that their flowers tend to be flat and have wide floral parts carrying width well to the base of each floral segment. The following iris all have collected Abbevilles in their pedigrees:


Haile Selassie Puttytat Rose of Abbeville
Peggy Mac Signal Charjoy
Bayou Sunset Plum Good Butter Brickle
Bayou Glory Old Coral Chuck

In conclusion, it appears that it was the Abbevilles that gave the real start to the breeding and improvement in our Louisiana iris.

Further, the presence of the flat flower form , branching, flower substance, rich velvety flower texture, and increased flower size can be attributed to a considerable extent to the Abbevilles.

It might be noted that in practically all those iris that tend to have large, flat flower form, Abbeville breeding is involved, while those without the Abbeville blood maybe be large but do not pocess the flat full form or flowers with the wide floral segments throughout.

___________________________________________________________________

1The author gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Mr. Ira Nelson, Professor of Horticulture , Southwestern Louisiana Institute. Iris nelsonii was named in honor of Professor Nelson.

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