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Miniature Tall Bearded Iris, Historic Iris 'Gracchus'

Iris variegata

Family: Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Iris (EYE-ris) (Info)
Species: variegata (var-ee-GAY-tuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Gracchus
Hybridized by Ware
Registered or introduced: 1884
» View all varieties of Iris


Miniature Tall Bearded (MTB)

Species (SPEC)


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:


Bright Yellow


Bloom Time:

Midseason (M)



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Awards (if applicable):

Unknown - Tell us

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Juneau, Alaska

Tucson, Arizona

Oak Lawn, Illinois

Somerville, Massachusetts

Auburn, New Hampshire

Kingston, New York

Ossining, New York

Concord, North Carolina

Enid, Oklahoma

Mount Wolf, Pennsylvania

Portsmouth, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 13, 2009, straea from Somerville, MA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I love this iris! I have it planted with slightly shorter fellow historic iris 'Eleanor Roosevelt.' 'Eleanor' is my first bearded iris to bloom, flowering while this one is sending up its taller stalks, and this one follows shortly, usually blooming starting around Memorial Day for me. It produces an amazing amount of flowers for such a little plant, and they are produced on sturdy stems that don't bend at all in my windy garden despite often having four or five flowers on them. In addition, it bounced back from an iris borer infestation last year with little intervention on my part (all I did was cut off the worst part of the infestation) and is now more vigorous than ever.


On May 29, 2009, figaro52 from Oak Lawn, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

Prolific little bloomer. Planted in April as a potted plant. Sent up 4 stalks and bloomed less than 6 weeks later!


On Mar 16, 2009, hespiris from Kingston, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

This is a very,very old iris. Ware just happened to find(?) and describe it in the late 1880's. The general thinking is that all iris forming the basis of the TB class were from I.variegata (of which Gracchus appears to be a naturally-occuring hybrid) and I. pallida, as well as natural interspecies hybrids formed between them.

Gracchus is a TB as they were classified in the early part of the 20th century, alebit a short one. At that time in the bearded class, there were mostly TB and a some DB.

Once intercontinential (European, Middle Eastern, North America) crossing really got underway, say 1920's-1930's, lots of interesting things popped up in the seedling beds, allowing for the median class to be developed; a serious contender as a seperate class by the... read more


On Aug 7, 2008, glacierdawg from Juneau, AK wrote:

This iris has been growing at the Jensen-Olson Arboretum in Juneau, AK since the property was originally homesteaded in 1904. It blooms well here despite the cool, wet maritime climate. While no plant is compleatly maintainence free, this one comes close. A top dressing of compost in late summer and deadheading is all that we do for it.


On Sep 1, 2007, Homefire from Portsmouth, VA wrote:

21" M
This is my husband's favorite iris in my whole garden of 300+ irises. It is a fast grower with many flowers. It is small, more like a MTB or IB. He always enters it in iris shows and won Best Historical iris in 2007 here in Virginia. It is registered as being introduced in 1884, so for an iris cultivar to remain in existance with people still growing it that long tells its own story. Highly recommended!


On Dec 10, 2004, Margiempv from Oro Valley, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

This iris may be referred to as a Tall Bearded, but is not really tall at all. This species is actually Iris I. variegata and is rather short. The spathes are very typical for I. variegata. They grow anywhere from as tall as the SDB's and occasionally as tall as a Border Bearded. Great colors that draw you in. I haven't grown it long enough to give it a rating yet.