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.

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    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

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

    UK Map