Iris songarica (Gintzburger et al., 2003)

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Iris longiscapa
Gintzburger et al., Rangelands in Uzbekistan, 2003
Iris songarica (Gintzburger et al., 2003)
Phlomis thapsoides
Iris songarica
Iris songarica
Iris songarica
Iris songarica on degraded pastures of Artemisia diffusa (Karnabchol)
Iris songarica collected by children to feed cattle (Karnabchol)


Iris songarica Schrenk

Local name:

  • Russian: Ирис джунгарский (касатики), кампир соч, каракош, камчалак, кирка соч, кырка-чаш - iris džungarskij (kasatiki), kampir soč, karakoš, kamčalak, kirka soč, kyrka-čaš
  • Uzbek: Kampir soch, Karakosh, Kamchalak, Kirka soch, Kirka-chash
  • Kazakh: Kum-bersh
  • Turkmen: Teke-sakal

Chromosome number: 2n = 22, 44 (Zahareva and Makushenko 1968; Fedorov 1969). Description and morphology: Perennial, herbaceous plant (20–40 cm), firmly bunched with short, thin root stalks-rhizomes deep in soil (30–60 cm). Filamentous roots growing to depth 1.0–1.5 m; lateral roots extending 20–80 cm. Stem: cylindrical. Leaves: large (20–25 cm long), erect, linear, slightly acuminate. Flowers: actinomorphic, large (4–6 cm long), pale or dark blue with violet spots, solitary at 1–3, rarely 3–5 in terminal short spike. Anthers flattened linear, reddish. Vegetative growth begins in March.

Reproduction: Sexual and vegetative (short rhizomes). Entomophilous. Flowering: May. Fruit maturation: May–June. Fruit: loculicidal capsule (4–5 cm long), 3-valved, polyspermous (up to 20 seeds). Seed: ovoid, conic-shaped or cylindrical, dark brown or black, lustreless with erect embryo (1/2–3/4 of seed size), surrounded by hard endosperm. Seed coat thick with characteristic structures. Dormancy Af–B3. Seed stratification (1/10 °C) for 1–2 years and scarification stimulate germination (up to 95%).

Pastoral importance: Reports on palatability are contradictory. Sheep, cattle and horses usually eat dry leaves. Sheep especially prefer the seed capsule. Some shepherds consider the green plant to be poisonous. Dry leaves often harvested for litter for cattle in barns. Often an invader covering large degraded areas or abandoned fields after cereal crops on poor and dry adyr.

Fodder value: In early spring contains (% DM): protein 18; fibre 16; fat 12; large amount of alkaloids. Dry leaves surrounding lower part of stems used a source of fibre. Roots are also used in medicine (for treatment of toothache and child diseases) and the cosmetic industry.

Habitat: Psammophyte-gypsophyte. Occurs on loamy soils, also on compact or gypseous gravelly and sandy gritty soils (granitic colluvial deposits); often found on abandoned fields following cereal cropping on sandy-gravelly adyr (Karnab-Tym region).

Distribution: South-west Kyzylkum, and other desert territories of Middle Asia, China and Iran.