Iris bungei

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Iris bungei
Scientific classification
I. bungei
Binomial name
Iris bungei
  • Sclerosiphon bungei (Maxim.) Rodion.[1]

Iris bungei is a beardless iris in the genus Iris, in the subgenus Limniris and in the Tenuifoliae series of the species. It is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial, from Mongolia, Tibet and China. It has green leaves, short stem and 2 violet, purple, lavender or blue flowers.


Iris bungei is intermediate in form between Iris tenuifolia and Iris ventricosa.[2]

It has knobbly, woody, rhizomes. That can spread to create dense clumps of plants.[3][4] It has red-brown or maroon-brown fibres or sheaths, that can be 10–13 cm (4–5 in) long, which are the remains of the previous seasons leaves.[3][4]

It has linear, green leaves, 20–50 cm (8–20 in) long and 0.2–0.4 cm (0–0 in) wide.[3][4] They have 4–7 veins on the leaves.[3]

It has a short, 12–15 cm (5–6 in) long flowering stem.[5][6][7] In some years, the flowers are barely above the soil.[3][5][8]

It has one or two terminal (at the top of the stem) flower,[3][6] between April and May (in Europe)[4] and between May and June (in Asia).[3]

It has 3 green, ovate between 10–8 cm (4–3 in) long and 4–3 cm (2–1 in) wide, large spathes (leaves of the flower bud).[3] Hence, reason for the common names of 'Big bud Iris' or 'Big Bract Iris'.[4] Compared to Iris ventricosa, it has parallel veins on the spathes, instead of being reticulate.[5]

The flowers are 7–5 cm (3–2 in) in diameter,[3] and come in shades between violet,[3][7][8] purple,[4][8] lavender[5] and blue colours.[6]

It has 2 pairs of petals, 3 large sepals (outer petals), known as the 'falls' and 3 inner, smaller petals (or tepals, known as the 'standards'.[9] The falls are oblong and oblanceolate (Top wider than the bottom), measuring 6–5 cm (2–2 in) long and 1.5–1.2 cm wide.[3] They have a small, thin yellow signal area and are marked with purple veins or marks.[4][6][7] The standards are erect, narrowly oblanceolate, 5.5–5 cm (2–2 in) long and 10–8 mm wide.[3]

It has a 1.5 cm long pedicel, a filiform (Thread- or filament-shaped) 6–7 cm long perinath tube, 3 cm long stamens and 4.5–4 cm long ovary. It has 5.5–5 cm (2–2 in) long style branches, that are the same colour as the petals.[3]

After the iris has flowered, it produces a narrow, cylindric seed capsule, 9–8 cm (4–3 in) long and 2–1.5 cm wide in July and August. The capsule has 6 veins and a long beak-like appendage on the top.[3]


In May 2000, 2 new benzo-quinone derivatives, bungeiquinone and dihydrobungeiquinone, and two known derivatives, 3-hydroxyirisquinone and 3-hydroxydihydroirisquinone, were isolated from the rhizome of Iris bungei. The structures of the new compounds were established on the basis of spectroscopic methods.[10]

In 2001, several chemical compounds have been found in the rhizome of Iris bungei, irisflavones A-D (newly found), irilin D (C17H14O7,[11]), irilins A-B and tlatancuayin.[12]

In 2001, 5 new peltogynoids, irisoids A—E, have been isolated from the rhizome of Iris bungei.[13]

In 2008, five species of Iris commonly used as ingredients in Mongolian traditional medicine (Iris dichotoma Pall., Iris flavissima Pall.(later classified as a synonym of Iris humilis), Iris tenuifolia Pall., Iris lactea Pall. and Iris bungei Maxim.) were studied for the presence of phenolic acids.[14]

In 2011, the seeds of Iris bungei were analysed and found to contain a new 'belamcandaquinone' chemical compound as well as others.[15]

As most irises are diploid, having two sets of chromosomes. This can be used to identify hybrids and classification of groupings.[9] It has a chromosome count: 2n=14 [4]


It is written as 大苞鸢尾 in Chinese script and known as da bao yuan wei in China.[3][16]

It is known as Bungyn tsaxildag in Mongolia.[17] It is written as Ирис Бунге, in Russian alphabet.[18]

It has the common name of Large-bract iris [16] or Big Bud Iris in China,[19] and Bunge Iris.[5]

The Latin specific epithet bungei refers to the Baltic German botanist Alexander Bunge (1803–1890).[20]

A specimen plant can be seen in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, collected from Mongolia australis on 1 July 1871 by N.M. Przewalkski.[21]

It was first published and described by Karl Maximowicz in the 'Bulletin of the Academy Imperial Sciences Saint Petersburg Vol.26 page509 in 1880.[22]

It was verified by United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service on 4 April 2003.[16]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Iris bungei is native to temperate areas of eastern Asia.[16]


It is commonly found in Mongolia,[2][6][14] within the Altai-Gobi and Altai Mountain Regions.[23]

It can also be found in eastern Siberia,[8] Tibet,[18] and China,[8] (in the provinces of Gansu, Nei Mongol, Ningxia and Shanxi).[3]


It can be found growing in sandy grasslands, in deserts and on dunes.[3][4][8]


Iris bungei is rare in cultivation in the UK, Europe and USA.[2] Only grown by collectors and for scientific research.[4]

It is hardy to USDA Zone 3, and needs mild and dry winters to survive.[4][8]

It is best planted between September and October.[2]

Specimen plants can be found growing in the Botanical Garden of the University of Halle.[24]


It is used in traditional Chinese medicines.[25]

The root of Iris bungei is a source of 'Irilin A' (an organic compound,[26]) and 'Irilin B' (which is also found in red clover leaves,[27]) and 'Irilin D', which are all used as Supplements. Tetra-hydroxy-6-methoxyisoflavone (or Irilin D) can be found in Iris japonica or belamcanda chinensis (Iris domestica).[28]

In December 2005, plants of the ranges of Mongolia were studied for palatability by various farm animals. Iris bungei was not eaten by cattle and sheep, goat found the plant desirable, horses ate the plant (as a last resort) and camels found the plant edible.[17]


On 15 October 1966, a postage stamp in Mongolia, had an illustration of Iris bunge.[29]


  1. ^ "Iris bungei Maxim. is an accepted name". (The Plant List). 23 March 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Dykes, William (2009). "Handbook of Garden Irises" (PDF). (The Group for Beardless Irises). Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "FOC Vol. 24 Page 304". (Flora of China). Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Chapitre II iris a touffe et autre (partie2)". Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e Franco, Alain (4 December 2013). "(SPEC) Iris bungei Maxim". (American Iris Society). Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e Cassidy, George E.; Linnegar, Sidney (1987). Growing Irises (Revised ed.). Bromley: Christopher Helm. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-88192-089-5.
  7. ^ a b c "Iris summary" (PDF). 14 April 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Pirogov, Yuri (28 January 2011). "Iris bungei". (Species Iris Group of North America). Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  9. ^ a b Austin, Claire. "Irises A Garden Encyclopedia" (PDF). pp. 274–275. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  10. ^ Rahman, Atta-ur; Choudhary, Muhammad Iqbal; Alam, M.N.; Ndögnii, P.O.; Badarchiin, T.; Purev, G. (May 2000). "Two new quinones from Iris bungei". Chemical Pharm Bulletin (Tokyo). 48 (5): 738–739. doi:10.1248/cpb.48.738. PMID 10823714.
  11. ^ John Buckingham, V. Ranjit N. Munasinghe Dictionary of Flavonoids with CD-ROM, p. 640, at Google Books
  12. ^ Choudhary, M.I.; Nur-e-Alam, M.; Baig, I.; Akhtar, F.; Khan, A.M.; Ndögnii, P.O.; Badarchiin, T.; Purevsuren, G.; Nahar, N.; Atta-ur-Rahman, M. (2001). "Four new flavones and a new isoflavone from Iris bungei". Journal of Natural Products. H. E. J. Research Institute of Chemistry, International Center for Chemical Sciences and University of Karachi. 64 (7): 857–860. doi:10.1021/np000560b. PMID 11473411.
  13. ^ Choudhary, Muhammad Iqbal; Nur-e-Alam, Muhammad; Akhtar, Farzana; Ahmad, Shakil; Baig, Irfan; Ondognii; Purev; Gombosurengyin, Purevsuren; Rahman, Atta-ur (2001). "Five New Peltogynoids from Underground Parts of Iris bungei: A Mongolian Medicinal Plant". Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 49 (10): 1295–1298. doi:10.1248/cpb.49.1295. PMID 11605657.
  14. ^ a b Machalska, A.; Skalicka-Woźniak, K.; Widelski, J.; Głowniak, K.; Purevsuren, G.; Oyun, Z.; Khishgee, D.; Urjin, B. (2008). "Screening for phenolic acids in five species of Iris collected in Mongolia". Acta Chromatographica. Medical University of Lublin, Department of Pharmacognosy with Medicinal Plant Laboratory. 20 (2): 259–267. doi:10.1556/AChrom.20.2008.2.10. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  15. ^ Lina, Binbin; Guokai, Wanga; Qi, Wanga; Chiyu, Gec; Minjian, Qina (October 2011). "A new belamcandaquinone from the seeds of Iris bungei Maxim". Fitoterapia. Elseveir. 82 (7): 1137–1139. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2011.07.016. PMID 21820495.
  16. ^ a b c d "Iris bungei". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  17. ^ a b "PALATABILITY OF MONGOLIAN RANGELAND PLANTS, Circular of Information No. 3". Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center. December 2005. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  18. ^ a b "Vegetation of Tibet. III. Plants of Tibet". 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  19. ^ "Sect. Limniris Tausch". Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  20. ^ Smith, A.W.; Stearn, William T. (1972). A Gardener's Dictionary of Plant Names (Revised ed.). Cassell and Company (published 1963). pp. 68–69. ISBN 978-0304937219.
  21. ^ "Specimen.e00381809". Retrieved 19 January 2015. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. ^ Iridaceae Iris bungei Maxim. (International Plant Names Index). Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  23. ^ Johnson, Dr. Douglas A.; Sheehy, Dr. Dennis P. (1996). "PLANT EXPLORATION REPORT 13 August to 18 September 1996" (PDF). Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  24. ^ "Experience with Mongolia plants in the Botanical Garden of the University Halle / Saale" (PDF). Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  25. ^ Jiaju Zhou, Guirong Xie and Xinjian Yan Encyclopedia of Traditional Chinese Medicines – Molecular Structures Pharmacological Activities, Natural Sources and Applications., p. 213, at Google Books
  26. ^ CRC Press Dictionary of Organic Compounds, Volume 8 (1996), p. 370, at Google Books
  27. ^ T. K. Lim Edible Medicinal And Non-Medicinal Plants: Volume 7, Flowers, Volume 7, p. 930, at Google Books
  28. ^ John Buckingham and V. Ranjit N. Munasinghe Dictionary of Flavonoids with CD-ROM, p. 639, at Google Books
  29. ^ "Iris bungei Endemic Flowers Mongolia". Retrieved 19 January 2015.

Other sources[edit]

  • Chinese Academy of Sciences. 1959–. Flora reipublicae popularis sinicae.
  • Grubov, V. I. 2001. Key to the vascular plants of Mongolia.
  • Mathew, B. 1981. The Iris. 122.
  • Waddick, J. W. & Zhao Yu-tang. 1992. Iris of China.
  • Wu Zheng-yi & P. H. Raven et al., eds. 1994–. Flora of China (English edition).

External links[edit]