Iris foetidissima

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaIridaceaeIrisIris foetidissima


A perennial herb, highly tolerant of drought and shade, found in hedge banks and woods, and on sheltered scrubby sea-cliffs, mostly on calcareous substrates. Reproduction is by seed and by rhizomatous extension. Lowland.



World Distribution

Suboceanic Southern-temperate element.

© M. Cotterill, IWNHAS

Broad Habitats

Broadleaved, mixed and yew woodland

Light (Ellenberg): 5

Moisture (Ellenberg): 4

Reaction (Ellenberg): 8

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 5


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4.2

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.1

Annual Precipitation (mm): 821

Life form information

Height (cm): 80

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary


Comment on Life Form

The fact that it is wintergreen does not make it a chamaephyte any more than Lolium perenne



Clonality - primary

Rhizome shortly creeping

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 728

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 14

Atlas Change Index: 1.47

Weighted Changed Factor: 54

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references

Atlas (329b)
Mabey R
1996.  Flora Britannica.
Mathew B
1981.  The Iris.