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Iris latifolia (English iris)

English iris, which is in fact native to France and Spain, is a tall, sturdy, bulbous iris with deep blue flowers in mid-summer.
Iris latifolia flower

Iris latifolia (Photo: Martyn Rix)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Iris latifolia (Mill.) Voss

Common name: 

English iris, Pyrenean flag

Conservation status: 

Not known to be threatened.

Habitat: 

Damp mountain meadows.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental.

Known hazards: 

All parts of both wild and cultivated Iris plants are poisonous, especially the rhizomes (swollen underground stems).

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Lilianae
Order: 
Asparagales
Family: 
Iridaceae
Genus: Iris

About this species

Iris latifolia is one of a group of about seven bulbous irises belonging to the subgenus Xiphium, found mainly in the Iberian Peninsula and western North Africa. Despite its common name, the English iris is native to France and Spain. Its flat leaves develop in spring, and the flowering stems, about 40 cm tall with two or three flowers, appear as the leaves die back. The flowers are deep purplish-blue, rarely pale blue or white, with upright standards and very round falls with a yellow stripe. Iris latifolia is one of the most long-lived species of Iris grown in Britain. One clump has been thriving by a river in Aberdeenshire for over 40 years, after being thrown out from a garden upstream. The British gardener and author Christopher Lloyd (1921-2006) grew English iris successfully in long grass in his meadow garden at Great Dixter House & Gardens in East Sussex.

Synonym: 

Iris xiphioides

Genus: 
Iris

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