Welcome to the HIPS PCT (formerly PBF) Project!

Quick Links:
2020 PBF Survey Results
2021 PBF Survey section
Survey Forms
PBF in General
More PBF Articles and Lists
Photos of Purple Coloration Types

We are revising the Project name to reflect new terminology. Although literally translating to purple-based foliage, the acronym PBF has come to also be used as a general reference to the occurrence of purple colorations in parts of the iris other than the blooms. This usage of the acronym has always been a bit awkward and confusing. “So purple rhizomes and purple spathes are not purple-based foliage but they are still ‘PBF-something’? Huh?”

We polled around a bit and decided the term purple coloration types and the acronym PCT would do the job better. It literally encompasses all the various types. We hope people agree this helps clarify things and adopt the usage of PCT as well.

With PCT being a new term it will need some clarifying and promotion by early adopters. Try using “various purple coloration types” as a first mention, then people will likely understand the use of PCT after that.  Then use “purple coloration types” or “PCT” when that is what we actually mean and to not use “PBF” when we mean something other than purple-based foliage.

A listing of the various PCT:

Purple-based foliage (PBF)  –  Again good practice to first use the long form then the acronym after that.

Purple rhizome (PR) –  This being only two letters and it really does help to use full form the first time.

Purple-ringed rhizome (PRR)   So close to PR that we need to clarify, “Wasn’t a typo, I mean the rhizome has a purple ring all the way around it.”

Purple spathes / bracts / sheaths / bud valves – These terms are used somewhat interchangeably and we don’t see people trying to use acronyms. It’s probably best left that way and to just use the full forms.

Purple stalk / stem / branches / pedicels – Same idea of no good acronyms and best used full forms.

Purple leaf edge / margin / wire edge – A band of purple along the leaf margin and typically very narrow. No good acronyms and best used full forms.

Photo examples and some descriptive comments about the various types are found at the bottom of this page.

A report on 2020 HIPS PBF Survey results

Many thanks to the members that participated in the 2020 survey. There were twelve reporters and bloom-time PBF observations on over 700 historic irises have been added into our data set. We are pleased that number were reported but the HIPS members hold over 6,000 historic cultivars so you can see we have a long way to go. We also want multiple reports on as many irises as possible. So, we very much need more participants in the 2021 survey effort.

Particularly valuable are reports on irises that only a few members hold. If your time is limited but you want to participate then please place particular priority on reporting your irises that you know are uncommon to rare.

There were some reports of irises with mixed PBF-yes / PBF-no observations. This corroborates the idea that multiple observations of the same iris are necessary before we begin to form to a conclusion about an iris being a ‘PBF iris’ or not. We are doing follow-up inquiries and are holding off on issuing a ‘PBF list’ until after we’ve had time to analyze 2020 and 2021 data and complete follow-ups.

Obviously becoming aware of mixed yes/no observations requires people to report PBF-no observations as well as PBF-yes. So, we are very appreciative of reporters who include PBF-no observations.

To illustrate: ‘Lucky Doris’ has a reputation as a ‘PBF iris’. We had two people report ‘Lucky Doris’ as PBF-yes. A third reported PBF-no. Follow-up found that the PBF-no iris came directly from one of the people who reported that iris as PBF-yes. We are sure it is the same iris. And we know both observations were made when the iris was in bloom. Do you have ‘Lucky Doris’? Help shed more light on this ‘lucky’ revelation.

Participate in the 2021 PBF Survey

Currently the PBF Survey is only requesting observations about purple-based foliage (PBF) made during the spring bloom season. Observations of PBF at other times of the season can be interesting and revealing of course. They can be submitted at your option as separate reports but we want people’s first priority to be during spring bloom. The other times data will be kept on file but will not be made part of this Survey’s main dataset. This is also true for reporting of other types of purple colorations seen during spring bloom or at other times of the season. (Purple rhizome is an interesting case though. See the set of photos below with comments about a potential grey-zone for what some might call purple rhizome and others might call purple-based foliage.)

For any questions and comments about the survey contact the Survey Coordinator at [email protected].

We make it easy for you to decide what method you use to report your irises. Submit the report literally on a paper napkin and we’ll take it! If you can provide the basic pieces of information needed then use whatever method is most convenient for you.

We have created a form that you can print and use in the field for taking notes. Use the links below to download in your preferred format. They all are already formatted to print out as letter-sized portrait pages. Simply print and it’s ready to take to the field.

There are three options for sending in reports.

  • Write up the report on paper and mail it in. Contact the Survey Coordinator for a mailing address.
  • Type the report into the body of an email and send.
  • Transfer the observations back to one of the electronic forms and email as an attachment.

Want to mail paper but don’t have a copy machine or scanner so you can keep a copy for yourself? Send the original to us, provide an email address and we will scan it and email you the report back as a PDF document.

The rules for the 2021 PBF Survey are the same as last year but we are taking the time to clarify some things.

  1. Basic pieces of information we need are:
    1. The iris’ name (cultivar or species). Check spelling.
    2. The observation: a simple Yes (has PBF) or No (no PBF visible). If a person wants to make any further comments they can. Please include observations on as many irises as possible, both YES and NO.
    3. Your name and some way to make contact back such as telephone number or email address.
    4. The year the observations were made. Provide your zip code.
  2. Observation window is when the iris / clump is in actual spring time bloom (+/- a week). Decision should be made during a direct visual check. Determining PBF from photographs after the fact can be risky.
  3. Reported irises should be historic, i.e. thirty years old or more. We will ‘round this up’ one year meaning irises registered or introduced during or after 1993 should not be included in the reports.
  4. The irises observed are located in your garden. If you’re helping someone else with a report, then their garden. (Reports from HIPS non-members are welcome but please note if you are a non-member.)
  5. We do not keep records on PBF of noids and unknowns. Unless you are very knowledgeable and experienced do not report on irises you identified to a cultivar or species name from noids or unknowns. If you fit that bill and report such irises please clearly note that as added comment. We will keep the data but we want to flag it.
  6. Reported irises need to be confirmed or what some call verified. As a large group of people with different degrees of experience and knowledge we have to settle on ‘reasonably confirmed’, ‘believe to be’. Minimal tests the PBF Survey asks for are:
    1. The iris came to you already named and that is the name you use to report it. You should be able to recall your source. (Otherwise you actually are reporting on an iris that has some unknown aspect about it and you are identifying it rather than confirming it.)
    2. Exam(s) has been made of the reported specimen in bloom. No obvious conflicts noted.
    3. An AIS Iris Encyclopedia check has been made and the iris does not obviously conflict with information found there and/or conflict with other information one has seen, e.g. the HIPS website gallery. (Shaub Dunkley, the current coordinator, will be the first to say that his irises often bloom notably below description heights. And he isn’t overly picky about bloom-season matching either. Those two things would make a great area for data gathering. Any takers?)
    4. All this said, there is a class of irises where the Survey Coordinator believes as conservationists, we have to relax the rules. There are situations of people having named irises that are presumably rare or at-risk, only one to three known holders (you being one of them) and zero to two retail sources. (This is true for a large number of the Member Databank reported irises.) These are presumed to be at-risk cultivars circulating under at-risk labels. The most important thing is to get data on the books for the underlying iris, whatever it is, that is being circulated under the at-risk label / name. Don’t be timid – get the data to the survey team, we can check against the Member Databank and Retail Sources data and do follow ups with the reporters after the fact.

Report on as many or as few irises as you’d like. Participate one year or, as we hope, for multiple years. If you have already reported on some named iris then there is no compelling reason to report on that name again unless you note specimens of it have changed PBF behavior, before was Yes and then became No, or vice-versa. This makes it a less onerous task to prepare yearly report. Reports will be compiled and anonymized survey results shared with the members at intervals.

What to do if you have two irises obtained under the same name and both could be reasonably confirmed except for having differences about PBF? This can and does happen. Remember, an iris’ PBF nature is often something not yet noted in the literature. Contact us and we can discuss what seems the best course of action.

Survey Form Downloads

The same form is available in your choice of Excel, Word or PDF format. All are already formatted to print as letter-sized portrait.

PBF Survey Form(Excel .XLS)
PBF Survey Form (Word .DOC)
PBF Survey Form (.PDF)

There is potential for using tablets or cell phone apps for recording observations in the field and helping prepare reports. If there are any techies out there who’d be interested in working on this please contact [email protected]

PBF in General

Existing lists do not capture all the PBF capable irises our members grow. We estimate two in ten irises might be expected to have PBF.  We can predict that within the 6,000+ cultivars reported to the Member Databank there are several hundred PBF irises yet to be reported to a central list. Getting all these irises reported will take a lot of scouters since so many of our irises are grown by only one or two members. YOU may be the key person to get an unrecognized PBF iris on the books.

The best time to look for display of PBF is from just before bloom until a few weeks afterwards. We focused on the time people are most inclined to be peering over their lovely blooming clumps. Throwing in a PBF check is easy do. Also, it makes the comparison of different people’s observations of the same cultivar more apples-to-apples because the irises are synchronized in the same stage of its yearly cycle.

PBF can help establish ID

Display of PBF can be useful to the identification / verification process.  There are caveats. Display can be variable within the same cultivar and even withing the same clump. (See the photos.) Time of year, soil chemistry, weather and perhaps other factors can influence display. It’s possible a PBF-classed iris may at times display no PBF at all which could lead to ID miscall. PBF is useful but it must be considered along with other pieces of the ID puzzle.

We will compile multiple observations and see if any patterns are suggested.

More PBF Articles and lists

ID Groundwork: PBF (article)
PBF Iris to 1939 (article)
AIS Iris Encyclopedia PBF page
PBF list on Cubits.org
Shadowood PBF list
Société Française des Iris et plantes Bulbeuses  (PBF list)

More PCT study possibilities?

At this time the PBF Survey is the only active work under the PCT Project umbrella. However, there could be other HIPS PCT surveys or studies active if there are people interested in conducting them. If you are interested in something along these lines please contact the PBF Survey Coordinator to discuss how activities might be coordinated.

Some of us already have personal observation records for other PCT. Potentially these records could be useful to future PCT Project work. If you have such records and are interested in contributing them to the general Project ‘file cabinet’ then contact the PBF Survey Coordinator and we can discuss.

Photos of Purple Coloration Types