Stinking Iris - Iris foetidissima

Scientific Name: Iris foetidissima.

English Name: Stinking Iris, Gladdon, Roast Beef Plant.

French Name: L'Iris fétide (='fetid iris'), iris gigot (='leg of lamb iris'), iris puant (='stinking iris').

5 Key Characters:
  • rather stiff evergreen sword shaped clumps of leaves.
  • leaves smell of raw meat when crushed.
  • falls (petals which hang down) are greyish purple and brownish yellow with purple veins.
  • the club shaped seed capsule splits into 3 to reveal orange red seeds.
  • flower stem angled on one side.
Lookalikes: None, although beginners might mistake the seed heads of Lords and Ladies Arum maculatum because of the red seeds. However this is much shorter and not split into 3 segments.

Habitat: Woods, shady banks, scrub, mainly on calcareous soil.

Flowering Period: May-June-July.

Status: Common. (Note: poisonous to livestock.)

References and Further Reading:
Flowers of Europe by Oleg Polunin, old but covers most plants in the area.

The Wild Flower Key by Francis Rose, lives up to its claim to bridge the gap between picture guides and academic floras.

Tela Botanica, in French and English and has distribution maps as well as photos, illustrations and descriptions.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

All photos will enlarge in a new window if you click on them. Row 1 Left on the edge of the Bois de Breuil, May.

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