A Trip for Irises

A Trip for Irises

A field trip to a forbidden, yet most amazing land to find some Iris species has been accomplished.

This field trip was done for preparation of the 3rd volume of ‘Illustrated Flora of Turkey‘. If you still did not heard about it, it is time to know now one of the revolutionary project. Please click here.

Our aim was to find four Iris species – Iris iberica, I. paradoxa, I. barnumae and I. lycotis. And we did it, we have spotted all the species that we were looking for in 4 days.

In our first day, we flew to Van, Turkey. This was our first and final destination. In the same day, we directly drove to the east, to Yüksekova, Hakkari, Turkey. On the way, our first specimen, Iris paradoxa, showed herself in a most beautiful way.

We have collected our specimen, pressed it, gather information, and photographed for our future studies. In a field trip, it might be really challenging to prepare an illustration of a species, as the conditions are generally tough.

After we have collected enough data about Iris paradoxa, we kept going to the east. When we came closer to Yüksekova, we had to pass many check points by Turkish Army, as unfortunately these area are occupied by terrosists. Many sad stories had happened and is happening to the beautiful people who has born and living here, on this attractive land.

Waiting long queues patiently to able to reach to the homeland of these amazing Irises. Just before we have arrived to Yüksekova, Hakkari, we have spotted our 2nd species, Iris lycotis. It was a true celebration.

After finding 2 species in our first day, we have arrived to our hotel in Yüksekova with a great pleasure, but with a lot of work in our shoulders. Before our specimens fade away, we had to prepare our first sketches that will be base for our further studies. Generally hotel conditions are not so appropriate to draw or paint. Light is not good, hard to find tables, basically not so comfortable for such a detailed work. But we did what we can do, and we will still do our final illustration in a most beautiful way to publish in ‘Illustrated Flora of Turkey’.

Our second day started early in the morning, and we head into more east, Dağlıca,  Cilo Mountains, closer to Iraq border. Cilo Mountains are the second highest mountains of Turkey. I did desperately want to see these mountains, but there were no chance. There were another check point on our way, and this time army didn’t let us pass. I felt heartbroken, but as they said, it was really dangerous to be here right now. Sadly we have changed our direction to another location possibly we could see other specimen we were looking for. On a field trip, a big possibility that your plans doesn’t work, and it didn’t work in our second day. On our way to other location, there were another checkpoint, didn’t let us go neither, and we had to stuck in between two checkpoints for hours. All day was gone in between these checkpoints. Finally when the problem was sort out, we continued our way, but it was very late in the day, so there were nothing we can do but go to a hotel to have some good sleep. We had back to Van city to finish the day off.

In our third day, we woke up with a new plan, and changed our way to another spot that possibly we could find the other species. We have decided to drove to Çaldıran, Turkey, along with the Zap River. After an hour drive on the way to Çaldıran, we have already find our 3rd species, Iris barnumae. Although we have found many leaves of this species, there were only a few flowering samples. This makes the work a bit harder. When you have a limited samples of plants, making an illustration of it may get extremely challenging.

The day after was our last day, so we were not sure that we could make it till the location of the last species, Iris iberica. But we did. We kept driving till Çaldıran and I have seen some incredible landscapes on the way but not the last species. When we have just started our way back to hotel, Iris Iberia has showed her giant head from a long distance. Excitement. A truly happy moment. I was thrilled to see such a beautiful plant in wild, makes you truly smile. Well, after some joyful moment, we took our sample and necessary information, we have kept driving back to Van. Unfortunately there were no time left to make any sketches at all about our last species, Iris iberica. So there were nothing to do, but taking the specimen with all the way back to my studio, at ‘Fırtına Valley’. I and Iris iberica had to take 2 flights, 2 hours driving back home. I am lucky enough that specimen survived nicely. She was still beautiful and charming.

Yes, it was an amazing field trip. A magical landscape on a historical land. It was truly worth to see every bit of it. Thanks to our botanists, make this trip to easy by locating the plants as if they planted it.  I am so lucky to have a botanist father, know exact location of many species native to Turkey, but especially Irises. It was very easy with him, to find what we were looking for. Now our flora artists also working some Iris species will be published in 3rd Volume. And I have an intention to complete these illustrations sooner than later. Fingers cross!

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