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Products > Iris foetidissima
Iris foetidissima - Gladwin Iris

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Bulb/Tuber/Rhizome etc.
Family: Iridaceae (Irises)
Origin: Europe, Southern (Europe)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Light Blue
Bloomtime: Summer
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: <15 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
IIris foetidissima (Gladwin Iris) - A rhizomatous perennial that forms clumps of attractive evergreen foliage to 12 to 18 inches tall by 2 feet wide. It has fairly attractive light blue flowers that rise just above the foliage in mid spring but it is for the foliage and showy fruit that this plant is particularly noted for. In the fall the clusters of 3 inch long sausage-shaped fruit split open to reveal bright orange-red bead-like seeds, a sight which has given this plant the additional common name of Coral Iris. Plant in full sun to light or moderate shade and give little to abundant irrigation (in other words, it is not fussy!) and in shade is actually very drought tolerant. It is hardy to at least 15 degrees F and can recover from colder temperatures with just foliage burn that needs to be trimmed back. We have seen this plant listed as a pond margin plant but have not tried this ourselves. A great garden plant in the dry shade garden - our plants under established coast live oaks rarely if ever are watered and have spread slowly into large clumps. The seed retain their color and attachment together within the fruit as it dries and can be cut and used in dried arrangements that last for years. This plant is native to southern and western Europe. It was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 using the specific epithet combining the Latin word 'foetid' meaning "stinking" or "bad smelling" with the superlative suffix ' issimus' meaning "the most so" or "to the greatest degree" which implies this must have been a plant Linnaeus thought really stunk and other common names such as Stinking Iris, Roast-beef Plant and Stinking Gladwin all seem to back this up. But while the crushed foliage has a rich beef-like aroma, it is pretty mild and only present when the leaf is really crushed. Other common names using "Gladwin" in its various spellings, including Gladdon and Gladwyn, come from the word Gladen which meant sword-grass and was derived from the Latin word 'gladius' (think gladiator) in reference to the long linear leaves of the plant. This species was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit in 1994. We have grown it at the nursery since 1989.  The information on this page is based on our research that has been conducted on this plant in our nursery library, from online sources, and from observations made of the crops growing in the nursery, plants in the nursery's garden and those in other gardens where we have observed it. We also have incorporated comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from those who may have additional information, particularly if this information includes cultural information that would aid others in growing Iris foetidissima.