Stinking iris

Clive Knight has sent us pictures of the beautiful scarlet seeds of Iris foetidissima growing in our woods.

Iris foetidissima goes by many common names, not all of them complimentary: stinking iris, gladdon, roast-beef plant, Gladwin iris, stinking Gladwyn, blue seggin and scarlet-berry iris. Its strap-like leaves, when crushed, give off a meaty smell that some people find very offensive; even the species name of its scientific binomial, foetidissima, means most smelly.

The flowers, which appear in the summer, are dull mauve or buff, strikingly veined with purple. The seed pods open in the autumn and the scarlet seeds, toxic to most mammals, persist through the winter. This is a plant that likes the light shade of marginal deciduous woodland and, when it is happily established, will spread vigorously under the trees.

[1] Stinking iris seedpods photographed in our woods by Clive Knight; [2] stinking iris flower [by Calimo (CC BY-SA 3.0) Wikimedia Commons]

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