Iris Sports

Displayed in the photographs below (the first line) are examples of two sports. Beverly Sills is an original parent plant and Beverly in White is the sport of Beverly Sills.

Purple Streaker is the original parent that has mutated and "thrown" a sport which was going to be introduced by us, but it reverted to the original plant.

Beverly Sills Beverly in White Purple Streaker Purple Streaker, TB
Beverly Sills, TB
Hager '79
Beverly in White, TB
Harris '99
Purple Streaker, TB
Ensminger '81
Purple Streaker, TB

Sporting Leaves To the Left is a photograph showing sporting in the foliage. This was a sport of Susa. There is a change in the foliage. The fans look variegated. When this clump was dug and the rhizomes separated, only one of the fans was variegated. The grower identified this change as a sporting of the original parent plant.

From the New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Gardening: "This word "sport", as used by gardeners, means a sudden variation from type in habit of growth or color of flowers. Thus, if a yellow flower appears on a shoot of a pink variety of Chrysanthemum, it is said to be a sport of that variety. Similaryly, bush Roses often give rise to climbing "sports". The botanist calls such sports mutants."

My definition, be it technically correct or not, as applies to plants and gardening ..... "A variant form of the original plant caused by a somatic mutation; variation may be in pigmentation (of any part, no limited to flower), manner of growth (plant form, season of bloom, etc.), or any other recognizable difference from the original."

From a nurseryman's standpoint, a "sport" is self-perpeturating (thought may in turn also throw ore sports) and generally may be propagated to produce more plants of the same type, but we also have sports (maily pigmentation) which occur in non-perpetuating situations and are strictly transitory and of little importance (e.g., a single random streak of a different color in a flower).

Information -- thanks goes to Keith Keppel.
Honorabile To the Left is a photo of Honorabile, MTB, (Lemon 1840). Throughout the years, Honorabile has sported and many other iris have been introduced as sports of this original parent plant. Those sports include: Joseph's Coat, Kaleidoscope, Sans Souci, Sherwin Wright, and Brown's Mutant. Some of these photographs are below.

Joseph's Coat Kaleidoscope Sans Souci
Joseph's Coat Katkamier
Katkamier '89
Katkamier '30
Sans Souci
Van Houtte 1854

Bach Tocata 03 To the Left is another example of sporting. This iris is also an MTB more recently introduced. It is not an older historic introduction like Honorabile. This photo is broken pattern, similar to Honorabile. The three photos below show this broken pattern in comparison to a more solid colored fall -- typical of what reverting look like.

Click the thumbnail photos below to see the reversion closer.

Bach Tocata 01 Bach Tocata 04 Bach Tocata 02

I'm known for being considerably "less" concise than Keith Keppel. I answered, on Iris-talk I think, a question about sports, and Judy Nunn, editor of "Tall Talk" asked if she could print it, so the article sums up what both Keith and I have said. Just for the heck of it, and for whatever it is worth, here's the "Sport" article:

In botany, a "sport" is a bud or branch that differs genetically from the parent material, and when propagated, is true to the new, mutated, type. It is not derived from a seed of the parent, but from a division. In irises, if a division or a wedge of a fan shows a difference, such as in color, form or foliage coloration, or has some other distinctive characteristic, and when subsequent new type, we call that a "sport." One can also use the term, a "mutation."

An excellent example is the white iris that appeared in the stock of the pink May Hall many years ago in the Schreiners' growing fields. It ws a May Hall in every way except in color. It was not a seedling. It few from a division, a rhizome of May Hall. The genetic pathway that produced the carotenoid pigment that become pink in May Hall was broken at some stage -- broken genetically. The white sport was subsequently used in breeding and appears in pedigrees. It was used as a white iris and bred as one.

Similarly, among Orville Fay's seedlings one seedling had its original first bloomstalk bloom blue on one half of the stalk, the other half white. Fay registered "both" forms in 1952 under the name GOOD AND PLENTY. Subsequently the pair were carried in catalogs as GOOD AND PLENTY (WHITE) and GOOD AND PLENTY (BLUE). In every characteristic except for the blue vs. white color the two were completely identical. Since the registrated parentage is "Fay sdlg 44-44 X Fay sdlg. 44-23" it is not clear from this information alone whether the white is ther recessive white with blue dropping out or is dominate "I" white with the inhibitor dropping out.

I believe I remember (dimly) from an article in the "Bulletin" of the time that included a photograph of the original bloomstalk that both parents were identified as blue, making the white form a recessive type and consequently the "sport." (It might be noted GOOD AND PLENTY is a contemporary of BLUEBIRD BLUE from Helen McGregor X Cahokia. This may or may not suggest something about the type of crosses Fay was making at the time.)

There have been a number of sports of HONORABILE (1840) that have been registered. KALEIDOSCOPE (1929) and JOSEPH'S COAT KATKAMIER (1930 and 1989) are variants of the variegata original, and it is believed for good reasons that SHERWIN-WRIGHT (1915), a yelllow self, is another. Honorabile and its sports seem prone to producing sports.

In short, SPORT is a non-sexual vegetative scion of an existing plant that is different from the parent and increases true to type, the difference being as stable as any other plant of the type.

Information -- thanks goes to Neil A Mogensen. Article may be found in TALL TALK, Spring 2004, "The 'Sport' Article by Neil Mogensen-Arden, NC, page 24.