Oncocyclus Irises - Regelia Irises

The seed of certain Iris species is noted for having a ring shaped creamy white bulge or collar on their seeds. Although these iris have sparse beards, their unique habits cause them to not be listed in that group of iris but in their separate class. They are native to Asia Minor on the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Arils are subdivided into two major subsections: Oncocyclus and Regelia.

Hybridizers have crossed this type of iris with common bearded iris to form types called arilbreds or arilbred iris. The resulting plants display a wide variety of colors, sizes and forms.

Oncocyclus Irises

The Oncocyius Iris group is one of these. They originated in Asia Minor and it is speculated that they may be the "lilies of the field" mentioned in the Bible.

Plants in this group have reddish colored rhizomes and three flowers per spathe. There are a sparse number of hairs on the fall of the flower. They need an alkaline soil for best growth.

Blooms on these
species tend to be the largest and most showy of all. Unfortunately, they have very specific cultural requirements which are difficult to find in many parts of the world. They require exposure to a summer drought and not just the withholding of irrigation water. This is one reason that they are not common in gardens in the United States

Regelia Irises

This is another group of iris that have seeds with arils. They are called hexapogon because they have 6 beards. In early summer, they bear 4 to 6 inch wide flowers in tan and smoky shades, many with prominent veined petals.  The plants grow to about 2 or 3 feet in height.

Most of them originated in Northern Iran and are a little easier to grow than the Oncocycius iris. The Regelias also require dry conditions in the summer but not as drastic as the Ococycius so are considered somewhat easier to grow.

Several cultivars have resulted from a cross of Oncocyclus and Regelia irises which attempt to combine the flashy flowers of the Oncoclyus with the slightly easier culture of the Regelia iris. These crosses are often called Oncogelias or Regeliocyclus. A few of the commonly grown cultivars include:

  • 'Kalifa Hirfa'

  • 'Kalifa Gulnare'

  • 'Beisan Aga'

  • 'Arjuna Aga'

  • 'Asoka of Nepal'

  • 'Black Joppa'

  • 'Bali Agha'

A series of related iris called the Mohr group are also commonly grown. The cultivar 'Lady Mohr' is widely grown.


I. korolkowii Redvein Iris   5 2-3 per stalk, creamy white tinged brown, with numerous dark brown veins May Turkestan
I. susiana Mourning Iris 12-18"   bright violet-purple May or
Asia Minor




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