in the Altogether
Median Iris Society's Genetics Study Panel; Bee Warburton,
Chairman; Fred Megson, John Tearington, Jean Witt
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The MOONLIT SEA
type pattern, which has been called and mis-called by a variety
of names, has not in the past even been correctly described, let
alone classified. The Median Iris Section's Genetics Panel, which
has collaborated in preparation of this study, has spent almost
three years in considering its various aspects, both its appearance
and its genetic makeup, and has concluded that none of the definitions
offered or in use in the past accurately describes this pattern.
Therefore, the Panel has selected from a number of proposed terms
for the pattern, one that seemed best: to describe its appearance;
to acknowledge the variety which has most often been cited as
its "type"-- MOONLIT SEA;
and to consort well with the name of its companion pattern, PLICATA.
The Panel has adopted the name "LUMINATA." It will henceforth
be used in our communications and in the reports of our work which
we submit for publication, and we hope that it will find general
....The definition of luminata as
worked out by the Panel reads, "Luminata is a genetically
reproducible anthocyanin pattern having its color present in an
irregular marbling in the central areas of the petals and absent
in the peripheral areas. The marbling effect is produced by non-anthocyanin
veining (white or yellow), and there is no anthocyanin in the
hafts, the stylearms or the beard." It is the pale, or "lighted"
effect at the heart of the luminata variety that gives the name
its validity. It is a pattern quite distinct from one which has
the marbling overlaid with the etching or dotting of the plicata
pattern, a combination type from which it has not been adequately
distinguished in terminology, color classification, or genetic
....The various terms which have
been in use or have been proposed are all either vague and confused,
or are based upon what we consider to be misconceptions. Those
we have evaluated, in the order in which they were suggested,
are 1) picotee; 2) fancy, or fancy-plicata; 3) weirdie; 4) MOONLIT SEA type plicata;
and 5) Havelberg pattern.
....1) PICOTEE. This term was mentioned
but not formally proposed by Charles Gersdorff in BAIS
OF THE AMERICAN
IRIS SOCIETY) 91:52,
"BERTHA GERSDORFF is
. . . a distinct pink and yellow that is neither a plicata nor
a variegata as we know these; rather it is of a type which I would
like to see classified as 'picotee.' The blue and yellow of the
same pattern is MOONLIT SEA,
I believe." In the nearly 30 years since this suggestion
was put into the American Iris Society's records by Gersdorff,
it seems not to have attained any degree of acceptance. Actually,
the term "picotee" has a double meaning, neither of
which applies to our type. One is of an edge with picots, or points;
the other is applied to carnations with an edging of different
color, usually red. This could not be taken as applying to the
....2) FANCY, or FANCY-PLICATA. This
term was first used by Sidney Mitchell ("Playing with Plicatas,"
BAIS .106:13), who had this
to say: "DEMI-DEUIL . . . was
an odd purple on white suffused in a broken pattern, an early
example of a type for which I have suggested the name 'fancy',
following the precedent of the English carnation raisers."
How Mitchell actually visualized the fancy pattern is unclear,
and it is quite certain that he included in the term a number
of manifestations of atypical plicatas which do not belong in
the same category at all. His use of DEMI-DEUIL (see photograph by Jean Witt in BAIS
.200: 40) as a type or example, rules
the term out for the MOONLIT SEA
type. Later the terms "fancy" or "fancy-plicata"
were used indiscriminately for clean and for plicata marked patterns
of the type, and indeed the term "fancy" itself was
seldom used without "plicata" appended. Actually, "fancy"
is a good English word for having "an extravagant, odd, or
whimsical image," and many iris patterns could qualify. At
any rate, the records are loaded with confused meanings and it
is too late to clarify the terms and reserve it for the type we
....3) WEIRDIE. This term apparently
was first used by C. G. White in his own garden. To quote Mitchell
again from the BAIS .plicata
issue of 1947, which is a gold mine of scarce information: "Mr.
White also has some lovely 'fancies' and some strange things he
calls 'weirdies.'" The term was adopted by Tom Craig for
garden use, and Wilma Vallette also used it in her book Iris
Culture and Hybridizing for Everyone, p. 323: ". . .
as common as anything in fancies is one that looks like an ordinary
plicata, over whose falls an almost dry brush loaded with anthocyanin
color had been dragged, to produce striations that are usually
a little lighter than the stitching at the edge, with the hafts
always having typical plicata markings in an even darker or somewhat
contrasting color." "Weirdies differ in that the hafts
are clean with few or no plicata markings, and the clean part
may extend around the beard onto the upper part of the falls,
as in PRETTY PANSY. Falls
may or may not have stitching Here the underlining is ours-this
description rules out this term for the luminata pattern, which
never has stitching.
SEA TYPE OF PLICATA. This expression was
used by Professor Randolph in Garden Irises, p. 353, to
designate the luminata pattern because he believed it to be the
result of an allele of plicata. As a pattern type, MOONLIT SEA
has a long precedence in the literature even though it was preceded
by BERTHA GERSDORFF
in registration. It is a little unfortunate that the variety usually
thought of as the type has a partly yellow ground. The variety
ALADDIN'S WISH (Murawska
'43) would be more appropriate because it is blue and white, and
it has been far more often pictured in catalogs, but MOONLIT
SEA has the advantage of a beautiful name.
....5) HAVELBERG PATTERN. This term
was used by Dr. Werckmeister (BAIS 200: 7, January 1971),
who informs us that the variety HAVELBERG,
which was registered with AIS in 1959, originated in Germany before
the war and hence may antedate the Sass varieties, of which BERTHA GERSDORFF was registered
in 1941 and MOONLIT SEA
in 1942. Dr. Werckmeister believes that the gene for this pattern
is at a separate locus from that of the plicata gene.
- Plicatas. Whether the plicata gene is a structural
gene for anthocyanin pigment, or is some kind of "distributor"
gene (see also the discussion by Alice Atchison, BAIS
200:23-26), has not been established. It is now generally accepted,
however, that the plicata pattern is controlled by a single gene
which consists of at least three alleles, Pl, pl and pla.
....Luminatas. A. H. Sturtevant
(BAIS 123:99-100) surmised "that the pattern found
in such varieties as MOONLIT SEA,
or WEIRDIE represents still another member
of the pl series of alleles, in which the anthocyanin is removed
from the bases of the petals but left as streaks in the blades."
This suggestion was repeated by Randolph and Sturtevant (Garden
Irises, p. 353) where some examples were provided of crosses
segregating both plicatas and luminatas. Dr. Werckmeister (BAIS
.200:7-12) has reported, without
providing details, that crossing the luminata HAVELBERG either
with plicatas or with pla whites gave some luminatas. Most recently
Wilma Vallette (BAIS .202:
95-99), also without giving specific progeny data, has reported
that crossing the luminatas MOONLIT SEA and MOONLIGHT MIDNIGHT with the pla white JAKE gave chiefly
luminatas. On the basis of these reports it seems reasonable
that the plicata and luminata patterns are not products of two
different genes, but are due to two different alleles of the
same gene-pl and pllu.
the order of dominance of these alleles Pl, pllu, pl, pla or
is it Pl, pl, pllu, pla? When we first noted that combinations
of "washed, brushed, marbled," etc., as the effects
of the luminata pattern have been described, with the "etching,
stitching or dotting" of the plicata pattern, could be broken
apart and segregated as pure or "naked fancies" (the
"fancy in the altogether" of our title) and conventionally
marked plicatas, our thought was that we indeed had two separate
loci. We believe now, however, that the best explanation for
the available data is that there is no dominance between the
pl and the pllu alleles. (Such codominant alleles are not uncommon-most
of us owe our blood types to them as A-, B-, or AB.) The effect
of the plicata and luminata alleles together therefore appears
to be an additive one in which the plicata markings can be seen
in the "lighted" area of the luminata. The combination
has been variously called "fancy plicata" and "fancy"
(adding further to the confusion of their use for the pure luminata
pattern as noted above). Sturtevant (loc. cit.) noted that "Fancies
appear to carry both this allele [MOONLIT SEA type] and the usual
pl of ordinary plicatas . . ." We now propose to call this
combination pattern "luminata-plicata" or more simply
....It is remarkable that, in general,
the luminata pattern tends to appear in just those areas of the
flower where the plicata pattern does not show. Hence in crosses
of luminatas with plicatas where both parents have appreciable
white areas the offspring usually show both patterns together
as typical lumi-plicatas. The Panel's chairman has observed,
however, that when the parents have very strong patterns, some
of the resulting lumi-plicatas have so much color it is difficult
or impossible to determine by eye whether they are very strong
lumi-plicatas or solids (selfs).
....Using the above considerations
alone it is now possible for the first time to take up Professor
Randolph's challenge (Garden Irises, p.353) to write reasonable
genotypes for the parents and offspring of the three complex
luminata-plicata crosses be described. This gives us some confidence
that the plicata problem will eventually be solved, but many
more carefully undertaken and recorded crosses are needed.
Color Classification and Varieties of
Because of lack of adequate description and indiscriminate use
of the terms "fancy," and "fancy plicata,"
it has been difficult to separate out the pure luminatas, either
in the registrations or in catalogs. The only place we have been
able to find a specific distinction is in some of the California
show schedules, and perhaps too few of the luminata type have
been entered in shows elsewhere to be given separate classes.
They are so rare in gardens that it would be almost impossible
for one person to examine them all except by acquiring and growing
them, and even to find sources for plants to grow is difficult.
The following varieties have been screened by the Panel and to
the best of our knowledge, they are pure luminatas on either
white or yellow ground.
ALADDIN'S WISH (Murawska
'43). W1 (white self). "White brushed brilliant blue."
- AMITY (Corey '44). W2L (white plicata).
"White brushed with violet-blue."
GERSDORFF (Sass '41). Y9L (yellow
bicolor) "S yellow slightly flushed pink, F .yellow
heavily flushed purple."
- CAN CAN (Tom
Craig '51). Y2 (yellow plicata) "Fancy plicata-variegata
with violet and orchid collar radiating downward from throat."
- CARNIVAL LIGHTS
(Sass '53). YS (blend) "Yellow ground heavily flushed brown
with unmarked hafts giving yellow glow through center."
- CHLOE INEZ
(Plough '56). V2 (violet plicata) "Fancy type, amethyst
violet with white hafts, throat, styles."
- CUBA LIBRE (Plough
'56). V2 (violet plicata) "Fancy plicata, S pansy-violet,
F plum-purple, clean yellow shoulders and throat."
- CUBAN CARNIVAL
(Sass '48). S7D (dark blended self) "Stark bare yellow shoulders
and vivid red brushings."
- DARK CLOUD
(Vallette '59). V2D (dark violet plicata) "Similar to Pretty
- DEAR DORA (El
Dorado '60). W2V (violet on white plicata) "White overlaid
cobalt blue, white beard and styles."
- FAIRY FANCY
(Sass '53). W2 (blue plicata) Described as white heavily flushed
- FANCY FLARE
(Austin '55). RV4 (red-violet bicolor) but described by Austin
as deep amethyst daintily brushed in white. This is a rare observation
that the markings are white.
- FANCY FRILLS
(Austin '55). RV4 (red-violet bicolor) "S light pinkish
orchid flushed white at the base. F light heliotrope with strong
white area at end of the very white beard and radiating white
lines extending out to the edge of the falls."
- GHOSTIE (Craig '49). W2 (blue on white
plicata) Classed by Vallette as "weirdie."
- GLOWING AMBER
(Craig '53). Os (orange blend) "Golden amber with burnt
umber and sepia overglaze in smoky radiating pattern."
- HAVELBERG (Schwarz '59) W2 (blue on
white plicata)-given by Werckmeister as the "type"
for the luminata pattern.
- HAVELSEE (Werckmeister '66). W2B (blue
on white plicata) Described as white, blue-powdered. (See photograph
BAIS 200: 11)
- LUCKY STRIKE
(M. Walker '48). 59M (bitone or bicolor blend). MAY SKY (Sass
'55). W2 (blue on white plicata) "Fancy plicata, white and
- MOONLIGHT MIDNIGHT
(Vallette '58). W2 (plicata on white) "Deep red-purple fancy
plicata, yellow hafts . . . all petals edged lemon."
- MOONLIT SEA (Sass
'42). W8D (white feathered dark) "Medium blue with white
veining throughout. Haft white edged with a band of yellow."
To quote here an example of the controversy that raged in respect
to all plicatas, and particularly this new pattern, Franklin
Cook raved in BAIS 87:35, "A rich indigo blue with
a gold heart, a really solid gold haft, stylearms and beard,
with no reticulations of bronze nor any blending . . . no iris
has struck me in years as being so distinctly different and so
exquisitely desirable. . . Appropriately named, it IS like a
golden moon shining right through the middle of a dark blue sea.
There is no other iris remotely near its coloring . . ."
A few years later, in BAIS 109:19, it was named among
a list of examples of "poorest coloring," victim of
a then current bias against all patterns.
- MULBERRY SNOW
(Austin '55). VR4 (violet-red bicolor) "Falls have large
prominent white blaze at top of each fall below which they are
intensely mulberry indistinctly lined in white in a fancy pattern."
PANSY (Sass '46). B2M (medium blue
plicata) Serlena Reynolds' first reaction (BAIS 116:25) was,
"It really is a beautiful combination of pansy blue and
white," but pictures indicate that it is blue and yellow.
- SALEM LASS
(Olson '54). RV1D (dark red-violet self) but as Dr. Werckmeister
pointed out, has the tell-tale white area around the lemon-yellow
beard, and white edging. Its parentage is all luminata.
- WEIRDIE (Craig '49). W8L (light feathered
red-toned on white) Craig says, Falls bright purplish-crimson
set off by intense yellow hafts changing gradually to white around
end of beard. S pale yellow flushed light rosy lilac."
- WISH AGAIN
(Muhlestein '52). W2 (blue on white plic) From pure luminata
breeding, described as white background heavily brushed purple.
- Note that the AIS color classification was changed in 1949
and this is why we have spelled out the color coding. The descriptions
are mostly quoted from catalogs or the registrations. It is obvious
without much study that coding of the varieties of this pattern
was a haphazard matter which never followed any consistent rule.
A luminata is quite different in appearance from a plicata, and
would never be classed as one if its source were not known. It
is perhaps the most distinct of all iris patterns, and this distinctiveness,
along with that of its companion plicata, gives it great value
for studying iris genetics. For its own sake it deserves a place
in our gardens and a niche of its own for registration and for
show classing. It also deserves a name of its own, and the Panel
feels that the one we have chosen, luminata, is both distinct