STINKING IRIS

ROAST-BEEF PLANT, GLADDON

Iris foetidissima

Family [Iridaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZnative
status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8multicolour
 
flower
flower8mauve
 
flower
flower8white
 
flower
flower8blue
 
flower
flower8yellow
(or)
inner
inner8pink
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ3
(3+3+'3')
stem
stem8lens
 
smell
smell8roastbeef
roastbeef
toxicity
toxicityZlowish
 

26th June 2019, flanks of Great Orme, Llandudno, North Wales Photo: © RWD
A specimen with three flowers which emerge from various heights along the stem.


26th June 2019, flanks of Great Orme, Llandudno, North Wales Photo: © RWD
Some parts of the flowers are striped purple on white. Other parts are strange reddish shades of fawny-green. Note the lower of two slight green bulges just beneath each flowerhead: those are the developing ovaries which will eventually become the seed pods.


26th June 2019, flanks of Great Orme, Llandudno, North Wales Photo: © RWD
The bulges beneath each flowerhead have expanded but are still not fully developed seed pods, which are much longer and fatter. The flowerhead has dropped off the top of the bulge on the right.


26th June 2019, flanks of Great Orme, Llandudno, North Wales Photo: © RWD
The flower and bulge from above.


9th Nov 2014, a garden, Cambridgeshire Photo: © Donna Allsop
These flowers are mostly in very subdued colours, featuring dull mauve, dull blue, dull white and even a bit of pale yellow. Sometimes mostly dull yellow. The top flower shows the slightly bulging spathe which houses the inferior ovary (the flower on the right has been broken off just at the top of the spathe). The flowers are large, 50-70mm across and appear to have 9 petals in 3 sets of three, but read on below.


9th Nov 2014, a garden, Cambridgeshire Photo: © Donna Allsop
Strictly speaking it has only 3 petals which are the middle-longest and look like paddles on thin arms. The three shortest ones with the forked ends are the petaloid styles which bear the stigma as a flap at their tip. These also hide beneath them the filaments with their anthers (the tip of which can just be discerned in the 2 photos below). It also has two sets of 3 tepals, the outer tepals are the longer, widest (in parts) and lowest, plus another 3 tepals in the middle which are oval to pointed at the tip.


9th Nov 2014, a garden, Cambridgeshire Photo: © Donna Allsop
A plan view showing the hexagonal bisymmetry. Not every clump has flowers.


7th Dec 2008, a garden, Bury, Lancs Photo: © Chris & Loraine Waites
Tufted clumps grow to 80cm near freshwater or in very wet places, but more often in gardens with a water feature, stream or open drain. The only iris with bright orange fruit which are more like berries. The fruits are inside each of three green parts of the seed pod which has split open.


7th Dec 2008, a garden, Bury, Lancs Photo: © Chris & Loraine Waites
Several seed pods opened. Unlike the fruit of Yellow Iris, which has brown flattened 'discoidal' seed, this has bright-orange spherical fruits containing seeds.


7th Dec 2008, a garden, Bury, Lancs Photo: © Chris & Loraine Waites
The seed pods split open along three places revealing the berry-like fruits containing the seeds within. A snakes mouth full of aniseed balls?


9th Nov 2014, a garden, Cambridgeshire Photo: © Donna Allsop
A fully-opened seed pod displaying its full complement of wares.


7th Dec 2008, a garden, Bury, Lancs Photo: © Chris & Loraine Waites
It is said to smell of roast-beef or alternatively of sweetly acrid meat that is a bit 'high' like mediaeval meat.


4th Feb 2015, a ditch, backs of gardens, Freshfield, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The fruits are attached to each side of 3 brown ribs within the pod, some here having already escaped.


4th Feb 2015, a ditch, backs of gardens, Freshfield, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The fruits.


9th Nov 2014, a garden, Cambridgeshire Photo: © Donna Allsop
The leaves are blade-like long and narrow, but without a mid-rib fold.


Not to be semantically confused with : Stinking Chamomile (Anthemis cotula), Stinking Tutsan (Hypericum hercinum), Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus), Stinking Hawk's'beard (Crepis foetida), Stinking Fleabane (Dittrichia graveolens), Stinking Goosefoot (Chenopodium vulvaria) [plants with similar names from differing families]

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The orange berry-like fruit in the pods. No other Iris has them quite like this.

It is native to some parts of the UK only, such as to Channel Isles, and Britain North to North Wales and Norfolk. Elsewhere it is naturalised, but only beside freshwater.

Stinking Iris is the only Iris with bright orange fruits (which, being spherical, look more like berries but are not hanging loose, but rather contained within pods). The orange fruit, which contains seeds, is poisonous, as are most (if not all?) other parts of the plant. The plant is variously said to smell of roast beef, foetid, or of sweetly acrid meat which is a bit 'high' (off). It may not smell throughout the year, though.


  Iris foetidissima  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Iridaceae  

Distribution
 genus8Iris
 BSBI maps
genus8Iris
Iris
(Irises)

STINKING IRIS

ROAST-BEEF PLANT, GLADDON

Iris foetidissima

Family [Iridaceae]