Iris Terms

Iris Descriptions & Abbreviations used in various media:

  • AIS - American Iris Society
  • Hybridizer - A person that develops a new iris hybrid (originator) to bring it to the public.

Bearded Iris Classes:

  • TB - Tall Bearded - over 27½"
  • BB - Border Bearded - 16-27½" tall
  • MTB - Miniature Tall bearded 16-27½" tall
  • IB - Intermediate Bearded - 16-27½" tall
  • SDB - Standard Dwarf Bearded - 8-16" tall
  • MDB - Miniature Dwarf Bearded - Up to 8" tall
  • AB - Aril & Arilbred - 3-28" tall

Beardedless Iris Classes:

  • SIB - Siberian 2-4’ tall
  • SPU- Spuria - 2-5’ tall
  • JI - Japanese - 3-4’ tall
  • LA - Louisiana
  • Dutch
  • PCN - Pacific Coast Native Iris


Name of iris registered with AIS, hybridizer (originator) and year of introduction.
Example: APRIL VISION (George Sutton) 2002
Season of bloom: E = early, M = middle, L = late

  • RE - Known to have a definite tendency to rebloom in fall
  • FR - Iris with noticeable fragrance
  • SA - Space Ager with horns, spoons and/or flounces
  • H - Historical, over 30 years of age
  • B - Beards-fuzzy, raised projections in upper center of fall
  • S - Standard- 3 upright petals of iris flower
  • F - Falls- 3 lower petals pointing downward or falling
  • SDLG - Seedling
  • NOID - Literally No I.D., an iris that has lost it's proper name.

Plant Parts:

  • Branch: a branch off of the main flower stem.
  • Crown: The crown is the point where the fan of leaves attaches to the rhizome.
  • Fan: One fan-shaped set of leaves per rhizome.
  • Increase: New plants that begin from buttons on the sides of the rhizome.
  • Rhizome: A rhizome is a horizontal, usually underground stem, that often sends out roots and shoots from its nodes.
  • Spur: A branch ending in a single bud.
  • Stem: Also refer to as a stalk; hold a flower up.

Flower Parts:

  • Anther: Stiff, fuzzy stem-like appendage holding pollen grains, located under the style arm.
  • Beard: The fuzzy 'caterpillar' from which bearded iris get their name. They are found at the base of the falls, tucked in towards the center of the flower. They are also found on the inside of the standards of some species of aril irises.
  • Crest: Instead of a signal or a beard the crested or Evansia irises of the Lophiris section have a ridge or cockscomb of petal like material called a crest.
  • Falls: The three lower petals of the iris flower that may either hang down or flare out.
  • Flounces: Iris with flounces have multi-petaled fan shaped appendages without beards that arise from the center of the fall.
  • Haft: The hafts are the base of the falls and standards where they begin narrow near the center of the flower. In older cultivars and some species the hafts of the falls are often marked with veins and lines. Flowers so marked are sometimes referred to as being "hafty" and it is often considered a fault unless it pleasantly adds to the distinctiveness of the flower.
  • Horned: Horned iris have petal extrusions below the beard that curve up and away from the fall to form a pointed horn.
  • Ovary: The ovule-bearing part of the pistil at the base of the iris flower which develops after fertilization into the seedpod containing seeds derived from the ovules.
  • Perianth Tube: The bases of the petals join together into a tube that surrounds the style and extends down to the ovary. Some species, such as Iris unguicularis, have very long perianth tubes that replace the stem and extend down to the ovary which is at ground level.
  • Pistil: The female reproductive structure of a flower which in iris consists of ovary, style-arms and stigma.
  • Signal: On beardless irises there is often a signal consisting of a bright contrasting spot of a different color that replaces the beard.
  • Space Age Iris: These irises have horns, spoons or flounces extending out from the end of the beard
  • Spathe: The papery covering surrounding emerging buds. It turns brown and protects the ovary as it develops.
  • Spoons: Spoons are long stringy filaments that extend out from below the end of the beard and are tipped by small, cupped petaloids.
  • Stamen: The. male reproductive structure of a flower consisting of a filament, and an anther containing the pollen grains. They rest between the style arms and the falls.
  • Standards: The three upright petals of the iris flower.
  • Styles: The part of the pistil that rises from the ovary and bares the stigma. In the iris, it branches into three flat arms, that may or may not be the same color as the petals.
  • Style Crest: The flared end of the style arm, usually split into two projections and often serrated.
  • Style Arm: Three style arms rest above the anthers; may be the same or contrasting colors as the iris flower.
  • Stigma: The part of the pistil that receives the pollen. In the iris, it is a lip projecting from the underside of the style arm, below the style crest.
  • Stigmatic Lip: The lip-like petal under the style crest which receives the pollen.

Color Patterns:

  • Amoena: Standards are white and falls are a different color.
  • Bicolor: Two colors
  • Bitone: Two tones of the same color
  • Blend: A color pattern where a combination or mixture of 2 or more colors in the same part of the flower.
  • Fluting: Gentle dips and rises along the petal edges.
  • Glaciata: A pale color from plicata breeding- no plicata marking.
  • Halo: A rim of color around the petals.
  • Lace: Lightly laced petals with serrated edges; heavy lace gives a crinkled, serrated look.
  • Luminata: The falls have a brushed pattern & a clear unmarked spot around the beard.
  • Neglecta: A blue or violet bicolor with darker colored falls.
  • Peppering: A contrasting color dotted or sprayed over an iris with a yellow or white background color; generally found on plicatas.
  • Plic or Plicata: Stippled, dotted or stitched pattern on lighter ground color
  • Reverse Amoena: Dark standards and white or pale tinted falls.
  • Ruffles: Vigorous or tight waving of the iris petal edges.
  • Self: Standards and Falls are the same color.
  • Stippled: Dotted, peppered or dashed.
  • Stitching: A dash-mark style pattern running in the same direction as the veins of the falls and/or standards. Often forms a visible rim around the petals.
  • Substance: The thickness of the petals.
  • Texture: The finish or sheen of the petals.
  • Variegata: A bicolor with yellow standards and darker, usually red, falls.
  • Wire-edge: A minute rim of color around the edges of the petals.