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Stinking Iris

Iris foetidissima


It is one of two Iris species native to Britain, the other being the Yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus). Its flowers are usually of a dull, leaden-blue colour, or dull buff-yellow tinged with blue; the capsules, which remain attached to the plant throughout the winter, are 5-8 cm long; and the seeds scarlet. It is known as "stinking" because some people find the smell of its leaves unpleasant when crushed or bruised, an odour that has been described as "beefy".


This species of Iris is found in open woodland, hedgebanks and sea-cliffs. Its natural range is Western Europe, including England south of Durham and also Ireland, and from France south and east to N. Africa, Italy and Greece. Wikipedia


Visited the White cliffs of Dover today and these were growing at the foot of the hill in amongst some other plants. The long, smooth leaves you can see in the photos belong to this plant. Seeds can cause skin irritations and all parts of plant are toxic - thanks to Ioannis for ID and some info!

1 Species ID Suggestions

Ioannis 9 years ago
Stinking Iris
Iris foetidissima Iris foetidissima

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staccyh 9 years ago

It is quite interesting! That's a good question Suz, I'm not sure if it does stink - that day the weather was horrible (really rainy and windy) so I took a few quick pictures and didn't manage to get a whiff of the plant! ;) but I had no idea what it was at the time and it didn't occur to me to smell it either - so it will forever remain a mystery!

suzmonk 9 years ago

What an interesting plant ... so, does it? Stink I mean? :-)

staccyh 9 years ago

Thanks for the info and the ID Ioannis!

Ioannis 9 years ago

I think it's an Iris, probably the stinking iris fruit. Seeds can cause skin irritations and all parts of plant are toxic.

Spotted by

Dover, England, United Kingdom

Spotted on Oct 19, 2013
Submitted on Oct 19, 2013

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