Black Magic

Wayman, 1935
Iris Class:
Bearded Class:
Intermediate Bearded
Fall Color:
Standard Color:
Beard Color:

Full Description

B 26″ E & Re B1D

From National Iris Gardens catalog for 1940: “This variety is identical in color, size, shape, height and habit to Eleanor Roosevelt, but the originator assures us that it is a more dependable twice-bloomer in some sections and that it has a tendency to bloom several weeks earlier in the fall than Eleanor Roosevelt.”

From Long’s Iris Garden Catalog 1953 “Almost a black iris, generally flowering twice each year”.

Note: Please see the article concerning ER and BM in the Library entitled ‘A Tale of Two Iris… or Maybe Not’.

Note: Black Magic and Eleanor Roosevelt are thought by many to be the same iris, as no discernible difference can be identified in today’s ER and BM.

Wayman sold these two iris at the same time, in the 1930’s and pictures of both appeared in the same catalog. It is highly doubtful that at that time these were one and the same iris. Unfortunately the catalog pictures of BM and ER are quite different, colorized, and not considered photographs. Robert Wayman himself states that the image of ER is an artists rendition of which he states is not true to form.
He does state that BM is darker than ER “being almost as dark as” BM. BM appears as having a gold beard however, which contradicts what we see in existence today.

Don’t think you will solve this mystery by seeking out BM in every garden to compare to ER. The confusion over these two iris goes back quite a long time.
In Edenwald Gardens for 1953, Black Magic is being described  as “True purple fall bloomer. Eleanor Roosevelt incognito.” ER is also being sold in Edenwalds catalog with the description ” True purple of great intensity. Reliable fall rebloomer.”

Provenance: Image 2 from Presby Iris Gardens, 2007.
Image 3 is a catalog depiction  displayed in the earlier Wayman’s catalogs in the 30’s . It resembles Eleanor Roosevelt that we know today And it is commonly accepted that Eleanor and BM became mixed or misidentified early on, perhaps as early as the late 30’s  so that both named iris are the same iris, and only one cultivar survives today under both names. We know that the two iris were separate iris in the 30’s when they were both recent introductions.BM was released by Wayman the hybridizer in 1935. ER was introduced by Sass in 1933.While today more people accept ER as true, and BM as the incongito ER, visual evidence appears that the opposite is true.
However there is a noticeable difference when looking at the older catalog pictures of ER and BN, ER being lighter,  described as a ”fluorite purple self with very rich falls” by National Iris Gardens in 1938.

Below is the picture of Eleanor Roosevelt appearing in National 1938.
 Eleanor Roosevelt National 1938

Below is the Wayman picture of Eleanor Roosevelt appearing in Wayman’s Catalog of the 30’s
Eleanor Roosevelt - Waymans 1939