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Iris foetidissima - L.
Common Name Stinking Gladwin, Stinking iris, Gladwin Iris
Family Iridaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards The roots of this plant are toxic to grazing mammals[100]. Plants can cause skin irritations and allergies in some people[238].
Habitats Open woods, hedgebanks and shady places, usually on calcareous soils[4, 17, 28]. It is often also found on sea cliffs[17].
Range Western Europe, including Britain, from France south and east to N. Africa, Italy and Greece.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Wet Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun

Bloom Color: Purple, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late spring, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.

Iris foetidissima Stinking Gladwin, Stinking iris, Gladwin Iris

Iris foetidissima Stinking Gladwin, Stinking iris, Gladwin Iris
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Iris foetidissima is an evergreen Perennial growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen from Oct to February. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Ground Cover; Hedgerow; Bog Garden;
Edible Uses
None known
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anodyne;  Antispasmodic;  Cathartic.

Stinking gladwin has a long history of medicinal use, though it can be rather strong in its action and so is little used nowadays[244]. The root is anodyne, antispasmodic and cathartic[4, 61]. A decoction of the roots acts as a strong purge, it has also been used as an emmenagogue and for cleaning eruptions[4]. The powdered or infused dried root is beneficial in the treatment of fainting, nervous complaints and to relieve pains and cramps[4, 244]. The plant has been used as a cure for ringworm[240].
Other Uses
A good ground cover plant, succeeding in dense shade and in dry soils[197]. Rather slow to spread though, needing weeding for the first year or two[197]. Plants should be spaced about 60cm apart each way[208].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Border, Rock garden, Specimen. An easily grown and very tolerant plant, it succeeds in most positions in any good soil in sun or partial shade[79, 233]. Succeeds in dense shade. Prefers a moist soil[4] but succeeds in dry soils and, once established, is drought tolerant[190]. Thrives in a bog garden[188]. Requires a well-drained soil containing some lime[1] and succeeds on pure chalk[233]. Established plants are tolerant of considerable neglect and can survive dense weed competition[K]. The evergreen leaves are not very hardy, being killed back by cold winds around -15°c[187], though the rootstock is much hardier and the plant soon recovers in spring. A good plant for woodland edges[24]. Plants often self-sow[208, K]. There are some named forms, selected for their ornamental value[190]. The crushed leaves emit a strong odour which, at a distance, resembles hot roast beef[4]. On closer acquaintance the scent becomes disagreeable[4]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[233]. Special Features: Flowers have an unpleasant odor, Attractive flowers or blooms.
Seed - best sown as soon as it is it is ripe in a cold frame[4]. Stored seed should be sown as early in the year as possible in a cold frame, it may take 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first year. Plant out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Division, best done in July after flowering. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
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Readers comment
elle   Mon Nov 27 2006
Survives poor conditions, mine are in dry shade by a wall. The strappy green leaves are not showy but look fresh and make a structural contrast among lower-growing plants. Don't be put off by the reputed smell: the roast beef scent is not that unpleasant and I've only noticed it once when sniffing a leaf which had died off. Flowers are rather drab in colour but the orange berries which follow in autumn are quite ornamental.
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Subject : Iris foetidissima  

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