■ (SPEC) Iris foetidissima L.
1753, botanical author Linneaus
Iris foetidissima L.
( Carolus Linnaeus
, 1753, Europe and North Africa); Section Limniris
. Evergreen, 12-36" (30-90 cm); Flowers dull lilac blue or dull yellow; Brightly colored seeds displayed from open pods, either scarlet, yellow, or white;
| Parkinson, Theat. Bot. 256. 1640, illustrated;
| Gerrarde's Herbal
| Four flower color for ms illustrated in color on page facing 73, The Iris Year Book1983;
| Linnaeus in Species Plantarum ed. 1: 39. 1753 (note see #8 on page);
| Reichb., Ic. Fl. Germ. 9: tab. 347. 1857, illustrated in color;
| Redoute's Les Liliaceae
| Dykes in The Genus Iris 1914 notes: Description. Rootstock , a somewhat slender, slow-growing rhizome. Leaves , thick, evergreen of a somewhat dark shade, slightly glaucous at the base, ensiform, 12-18 in. long, i-1 in. broad. Stem , about 2 ft. long, bearing 2 or 3 reduced clasping leaves and 2 or 3 heads of flowers. Spathe , 2-3 flowered ; valves green, rigid, firm, lanceolate, about 3 in. long. Pedicels , unequal in length, 1-3 in. long. Ovary, trigonal with a groove at each angle and on each face, tapering slightly at either end. Tube , about half an inch, rounded trigonal, separated by a constriction from the ovary. Falls . The haft becomes gradually wider and is separated by a slight constriction from the obovate or nearly orbicular blade, which is slightly emarginate. The veining is always conspicuous in the purple flowered form. The colour is either a pale grey-purple with deeper purple veins or a pale straw yellow with greenish veins. 1-k-2 in. long by 1 in. broad. Standards . The blade is emarginate and either oblanceolate or narrowly obovate, with a short canaliculate haft. Styles , about an inch in length, growing suddenly wider in the upper part. Crests, small, deltoid. Stigma , bifid, with two pointed teeth. Filaments , short. Anthers, long, usually reaching the stigma or even projecting beyond it. Pollen , cream. Capsule , rounded trigonal, more or less distinctly six ribbed narrowing to a beaked point at the upper end, rt-2 in. long. Seeds , globular, scarlet, remaining firmly attached after the capsule has dehisced.Observations.This Iris, which derives its name from the disagreeable smell emitted by the bruised leaves, is very widely distributed and is one of our two native English Irises. The most common form bears flowers of a dull brownish purple but even in England a yellow form is found growing wild in Dorsetshire not far from Swanage and in the Isle of Wight. In this case the colour is a pale yellow tinged and veined with green. Another form is said to be finely veined with reddish brown on a dirty yellow ground. This latter may be that which is represented in Reich. le. Fl. Germ. t. CCCXLVII. fig. 775, but I have never seen any plant that had flowers in the least resembling this plate. The yellow-flowered form is also found in Sicily (cf. Tineo's specimen (V) from Le Madonie).The flowers of this Iris are very inconspicuous except in the somewhat rare yellow-flowered forms and it is curious that no attempt to hybridise this species in order to produce an ornamental plant with evergreen leaves has ever been successful. Foster made many attempts but always without result.The most conspicuous feature of this Iris, after its evergreen leaves, is formed by the open capsules displaying their orange-scarlet seeds throughout the winter. It is, as far as I know, the only Iris whose seeds remain attached to the placenta long after the capsules have burst. The seeds also are totally unlike those of any other species, and form a very ornamental winter decoration.A form with variegated leaves has long been known in gardens. It should be noticed that the pale yellow part of each leaf is towards the centre of the tuft, thus showing that it is really the outer edge of the leaf' that is unreached by the green pigment.The cultivation of this Iris presents no difficulty. It seems to have little preference in the matter of soil succeeding equally well in a limestone and in a limeless soil. It will grow in the shade of trees but does not flower freely unless it is in such a position that it gets a fair amount of sun. Seedlings grow very slowly and the whole plant is perhaps the most slow of increase of any Iris.(1 Iris leaves are really closely folded down the centre, having their outer edges joined up except towards the base. The outer edges always turn towards the centre of the tuft of leaves.)
| Van Tubergen 1900; 1938; Van Waveren 1907; Farr 1912; Wing 1920; Wallace 1934; Berry 1938; Perry 1938;
Gladwin Iris; Berried Iris; Iris foetida, Thunb.; Iris foetida, Bergeret; Gladdon; Roast Beef Iris; Spatula foetida, Besslr.; Stinking Gladdon (foliage has an unpleasant fragrance when bruised).
2n=40, Wentworth et al., 1991; 2n=40, Colasante & Sauer, 1993; 2n=40 Pérez & Pastor, 1994.
Iris foetidissima L.
Iris foetidissima cultivars: SpecBurgundyBlush
- Var. citrina Syme
- Var. lutescens Maire
, SpecFoetidissima Aurea
, SpecFoetidissima Citrina
, SpecFoetidissima Variegata
, 'Foetidissima Fructo-Albo'
, 'Giant Chinese form'
, 'Golden Goblet'
, 'Nant Gwilw'
, 'Picos de Europa'
, 'Weber's Golden Nap'
, 'White flowered form'
, 'White seeded form'
, 'Yellow seeded form'
Iris foetidissima crosses: 'Weber's Golden Sunshine'
Other articles about foetidissima: The Garden 1874 (as indoor ornament); The Garden 1881, (two variations); The Garden 1879, (for berries)
Distribution and Cultivation
| Distribution: Region: Azores, Western Europe to West & Central Mediteranean. including these countries; Great Britain, naturalized in Ireland, and Switzerland, Corsica, France, Portugal, Sardenia, Spain, Italy, Sicily, naturalized in Yugoslavia, Native to Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, The Azores, Naturalized in cny mdr Turkey, Tasmania, and California
| Cultivation: Generally growing wild in woodlands, It can be grown in full sun in Northern Latitudes so long as it has lots of water and nutrients, Useful as an Iris that tolerates quite a bit of shade.
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