Perennial herbaceous plantsirises, meaning rainbow in Greek, occur in meadow and bog communities of Primorye, as well as in its thin forests. Russians call the plant, whose flower personifies the most beautiful phenomenon of nature, the rainbow iris. In Primorye, multicolored irises begin to gladden the eye from early May to finish in July or even in August with the blossoming of the widely recognized beauty, Iris ensatsa Thunb. In Russias Far East, Primorye inclusive, ten iris species grow, most of them being endangered species, and four have been entered in the list of rare species of the Russian Far East.
    Despite the numerous experimental works with irises, their bulk is oriented to cultivation of new varieties. Meanwhile, the genus Iris L. presents no less interest taxonomically as well. For several decades now, Russian and especially foreign botanists have been studying the genus Iris from morphological, ecological, genetic and biomolecular positions as a model plant group for resolving evolutionary problems. From this angle, Iris setosa Pall. Ex Link. Presents special interest due to its wide distribution far beyond Asia, and owing to its morphological and ecological heterogeneity. Besides, the intraspecific taxonomy of Iris setosa needs to be specified terminologically.

      The Institute of Biology and Soil Science needed five years of hard work to create a collection of iris species collected preferentially in Primorye and Amur and Sakhalin Regions; the latter is also abundantly represented by specimens from the Kurile Islands. Our collection of irises numbers about 400 plants, including the following species: I. ensata Thunb., I. laevignata, I. sanguinea, I. uniflora, I. oxypetala Bunge, I. setosa Pall. ex Link. and Pardanthopsis dichotoma.
    The variability of a number of fruit and seed features in I. setosa, I. ensata and I. oxypetala was estimated within the framework of intraspecific diversity studies to identify stable and highly variable features. The examined features were used to note polymorphism for a number of insular and continental populations and to develop an effective method for germinating I. setosa seeds.
 M. G. Popov, a well-known Russian botanist, and subsequently G. I. Rodionenko, a monographer of the genus Iris, called on evolutionists and taxonomists to concentrate their attention on the plant somsa, the constant part of its organism via whose alteration the flower is impacted. We turned to the plant soma, viz. the rhizome to determine the variability in sexual and asexual multiplication reflecting the adaptive strategy of the species in specific habitats. The point is that long-term scars from generative shoots remain on the iris rhizome to allow assessing the frequency of floriferous shoot formation. Continental and insular plants were used in the study to show that both seed and vegetative multiplication prevail in continental populations and those of large islands located near the mainland. The populations of central islands are distinguished by decline in the level of both types of reproduction, but are found to be characterized by older individual age of clonal fragments. Besides, insular populations significantly vary in annual rhizome increment size depending on growth conditions.
    In conclusion, to revert to the decorative qualities of irises, our researchers used I. setosa as an example to develop a method for assessing the color diversity of lifelong crown petals using spectrophotometers. Flower growers possessing spectrophotometer model C-18 may use the method on any large-flower objects.

  Yu. ZHURAVLEV, Corr. Member, Russian Academy of Sciences, Director,  Institute of Biology and Soil Science, F. E. Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences.

  A. KHOLINA, Researcher,  Institute of Biology and Soil Science, F. E. Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences.

 M. ILYUSHKO, Researcher,Institute of Biology and Soil Science, F. E. Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences.

 N.  MIKHAILOVA, Cand. Sci. (Biology),  Institute of Biology and Soil Science, F. E. Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences.

 E. BOLTENKOV, Graduate Student,  Institute of Biology and Soil Science, F. E. Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences.

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