Stinking Iris - Iris foetidissima

Alternative names

It is one of two iris species native to Britain, the other being the Yellow Iris. 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 to 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.

Identification difficulty

Deciduous woodland, hedgerow and scrub.

When to see it

May to July.

Life History


UK Status

Widespread in Britain south of the Humber, scarce further north.

VC55 Status

Rare in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 4 of the 617 tetrads.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map