Anatomy of a bearded iris

When describing iris, we often talk about ‘falls’, ‘standards’ and ‘beards’.  Here is a brief explanation of these terms and a few more.

Falls are the lower three petals of the flower.  They can be adorned with veining, lines or dots and are usually narrower at the top, expanding gracefully downward.

Standards refer to the upper three petals of the flower.  They are often markedly different to the falls and ‘stand’ upright.


Anatomy of an iris

The spathe is found below the petals.  It has a papery covering around the emerging buds, and protects the ovary, turning brown as it develops.

The beard is the fluffy ‘caterpillar’ at the top of the falls, giving bearded iris their name.  They often provide a startling colour contrast to the petals of the iris.

A rhizome is a storage part consisting of a more or less horizontal underground section of the plant from which roots grow.  They are potato-like and should be planted just beneath the surface.

If you are interested, the American Iris Society has an article about the colour terms used when describing tall bearded iris – check it out here