Species Iris Group of North America

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Publications* Species Database Spec-X IOTM
What is Spec-X?

Spec-X is the term applied to any hybrids that do not fall into a conventional category such as Louisianas, Siberians, or Junos. It literally means "species cross". Spec-X hybrids are often wide crosses between different clades or sections. The Spec-X term is also used by traditional bearded iris hybridizers to describe a near-species level new seedling.

'Paltec' (shown at left) is the classic historical example of a Spec-X hybrid. It was a cross between a bearded species, Iris pallida, with a crested species, Iris tectorm. PALlida plus TECtorum yielded PALTEC. It was remarkable to achieve such a cross at the diploid level nearly 100 years ago.

Candy Lilies (shown at right) are perhaps the most famous modern Spec-X. Sam Norris pioneered this cross back in 1967, and he is honored by the having the hybrid named for him I. × norrisii. Back then the two parent species were classified as Belamcanda chinensis and Pardanthopsis dichotoma, and therefore the hybrid was classified Pardancanda. But modern taxonomic revisions (in part due to Sam's hybridizing success) place these species back in the genus Iris as I. domestica and I. dichotoma.

In recent years Spec-X irises have become quite popular. The American Iris Society established the Randolph-Perry Award in 2003 to honor the best of these new seedlings.

Some Spec-X crosses are common enough that unofficial scientific names have been applied to them. Others were once thought to be species but later analysis showed them to be naturally occurring hybrids and so their species epithet has been downgraded to a Spec-X assignment.

    × versata = versicolor × ensata
    × biversata = versata × versicolor [the name is meant to suggest 2 doses of versicolor]
    × reversicolor = versicolor × biversata
    × reensata = versata × ensata [the name is meant to suggest 2 doses of ensata]
    × tetraversata = tetraploid versata = tetraploid (versicolor × ensata)
    × robusta = a natural hybrid of I. virg. shrevei × versicolor reported by Anderson (1949)
    × versilaev = versicolor × laevigata
    × pseudata = pseudacorus × ensata
    × sibtosa = sibirica × setosa
    × tetrasibtosa = tetraploid sibtosa = tetraploid (sibirica × setosa)

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* Some important new updates were added January 2024 indicated by the asterisk in the header. Please check them out!