I have seen and illustrated flowers that have all the colors of the rainbow.

Turkey is an iris heaven. There are about forty taxa grows in the magical lands of Turkey, scatter around with its glorious and most charming look. It is almost impossible not to get attracted by those magnificent flowers.

This is a ‘Passion Project’ that only aims to show the beauty and the importance of the natural habitats that is left and how attractive those lands could be if you look closely. This project might lead to a well-accomplished book, to a wonderful exhibition but this does not matter. In this project what only matters is to see and appreciate these natural habitats left and celebrate its richness while still it is.

With this project, I am looking for each and every species of Iris in Turkey - a few in each year. Aim is to see these beauties in their own habitats, observe and appreciate their behavior and prepare a series of paintings. Wile the focus point is on this charming species, this project is also here to show the richness of the land by observing surrounding species as well.

There are 306 species of irises (Iris L.) considered to have originated in the world. (Plants of the World Online, 2021). Since almost all species are beautiful, it has attracted the attention of both scholars, collectors and enthusiasts in every period of history. It is widely used both as a garden flower and as a cut flower. It has always been the focus culturally. In some countries, similar to the “Iris societies" in general, its supporters have united and formed a society for an information exchange. There are also other economic or medical uses of these species and this can be found in The Species Group of British Iris Society's program “A Guide to Iris Species: identification and cultivation” (A Guide to Iris Species: and cultivate, 1997). In fact, irises are planted in cemeteries in Anatolia. This custom is a continuation of a belief in Ancient Greece: At that time, it is believed irises were the messengers through rainbows between the gods and the earth. The indicator of this was the rainbow colors on the iris flower. It is stated that the planting the iris flowers in the cemeteries is due to the belief of guiding the soul to heaven (A Guide to Iris Species: and cultivate, 1997). Navruz (Iris persica L.) and its relatives are the symbol of freshness and youth in Turkish culture, are also the epitome of the “Nowruz Festival” celebrated in West and Central Asia; it is collected by children and shepherds in the spring, its flowers are eaten, and it is regarded as the herald of spring (personal communication: the deceased H. Peşmen, 1975).

Adil Güner ‘Illustrated Flora of Turkey’


My first field work is completed in 2016 with Adil Güner who is not only my father but also one of the fathers of botany in this genus. He is an Iris expert and knows exact locations of each species I am looking for. He has all the answers of a botanical artists needs to know while working such particular species.

Each of these species is painted with a lot of observation to the species and they are aimed to be scientifically accurate by displaying each character of the species. This then checked again by my father.

I have been in many different places and seen many different species so far but perhaps this is the beginning and there is no end of it. This is a project where there is no time, but space. Here is the list of some of my previous field works and accomplished Iris sketches and paintings. Wishing that this list will grow each year.

  • 2016 – Van, Hakkari - Iris lycotis
  • 2016, 2017 – Van Province - Iris iberica ssp elegantissima
  • 2018 – Southern Turkey - Iris reticulate ssp isikgunerea (New subspecies) , Iris stenophylla margaretieaIris histrio
  • 2019 – An Iris field trip - Iris junoniaIris spuria ssp. musulmanicaIris sibirica
  • 2020 – Easter Trio - Iris paradoxaIris polakii (synonim Iris barnumiae), Iris sariIris urmiensisIris caucasica ssp turcica

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