Stinking Iris

The Stinking Iris (Iris foetidissima) doesn’t have the flashy bright flowers of the wild Yellow Flag or colourful garden varieties. In fact its colouration does not make it stand out at all. I often think that the pale brown and faded purple of its petals make it look as if it is dead or dying when in fact it is in full bloom. It tends to conceal itself in dampish places and hides among other vegetation. The long sword-like leaves are characteristic, and these are sometimes crinkled or almost pleated in a characteristic way. The showy bit of the Stinking Iris is the bright orange berries that it produces in the autumn inside the large green pods that develop after the flowers are fertilised. The common and the Latin name of the plant refer to the unpleasant smell the leaves give off which attracts insects that like to visit dead things.

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