Reprint: First Lady or Red Ruler?

by Martha MacFarlane, CA

I sent some photos to Phil Edinger for positive identification. He seemed to agree on most of the names but says what we have called Eleanor Roosevelt for years is really Crimson King. I see no crimson in it – it seems to match all my descriptions of ER: “deep violet self; blue beard”; “deep violet-red, slight fragrance” (not too sure about this one); “intense violet, white beard, remontent.” I always think of the beard as white, but I can see that it does have a bit of a blue cast. For a long time I have wanted to get Crimson King for a comparison; now I will have to get Eleanor Roosevelt to compare with my Crimson King if Phil is right. I wish I could see pictures of the two of them side by side.

Everyone I know calls this one Eleanor Roosevelt and I don’t know anyone who has Crimson King. It will be very hard to get them all to change the name after so many years. We have another problem if we were to change the name to Crimson King. Most everyone grows some of this iris because it blooms so often. However, it is such a multiplier that we always have piles and piles of it at our public sales. It has therefore been spread far and wide as Eleanor Roosevelt. There is no possible way to contact all these people.

What is the next move?

~ Reprinted from ROOTS, Vol 7, Issue 1, Spring 1994.

iris eleanor roosevelt
Faintly veined, nearly a self; Light Lavender beard, orange in the throat. Falls have a more velvety finish than CK.
iris crimson king
Prominent veining; Light area around the beard; Light, yellow tipped beard.
iris eleanor roosevelt
Eleanor’s buds are deep black all over, with scarious spathes, only a little tinge of purple evident on the spathes.
iris crimson king
CK’s spathes are prominently purple tinged. Buds are noticeably yellow-green at the claw and lighter than Eleanor.