Iris foetidissima

Stinking gladwyn

Reader rating

From 4 ratings

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Key information

Plant type

Hardy perennial

Flower colour

Yellow, Bronze


Flowers, Fruit



Skill level


Iris foetidissima

Plant details

Iris foetidissima is the perfect iris for a shady spot, particularly beneath trees, where other plants struggle. It has architectural evergreen foliage and dull purple flowers, but it comes into its own in autumn when its large seedpods split open to reveal rows of orange-red seeds that remain well into winter. It works well with with other shade lovers such as Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae and, under deciduous trees, dwarf spring flowering bulbs. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Grow Iris foetidissima in moist but well-drained soil in sun or shade. Remove faded foliage in autumn.

Family: Iridaceae

Genus: Iris

Species: foetidissima

Plant type: Hardy perennial

Flower colour: Yellow, Bronze

Foliage colour: Dark green

Feature: Flowers, Fruit

Sun exposure: Partial shade, Shade

Soil: Well-drained/light, Moist

Hardiness: Hardy

Skill level: Experienced

Height: 75cm

Spread: 45cm

Time to plant seeds: September to May

Time to divide plants: June to August

Reader reviews


This Iris is nothing but a weed. Its flowers are grey and the foliage is uninteresting.

Dig it up and bin it.


This beautiful iris has delicate flowers, huge bright green pods and the most fantastic, startling orange-red berries that persist long after other plants have been and gone. It can cope with being under trees, even in relatively dry shade, and has been a blessing in my garden! I'm so pleased to have finally identified it - so if you are planning on digging it up, try offering it free to other people who need shade plants rather than binning it, as the previous commenter suggests :)


A brilliant plant for problem areas. It is evergreen and the flowers are lovely, understated, but lovely. The split seed pods with their bright orange-red seeds are beautiful in winter. It can cope with just about anything - shade, drought, sun. Seedlings are easily identified and can be transplanted easily.


Love this native iris. The strap-like leaves provide evergreen structure all through the Winter. The bright orange berries give a zing to the drabness when nothing else is in colour. It's a tough as old boots, easily dividable, but never invasive.

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