Though garden escapees can falsely colour the picture, Britain has just two native irises – these are they …
Yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus)
Also known as Yellow flag iris, Jacob’s sword and a host of other vernacular names, the Yellow iris likes to bury its roots in the wet, often by ponds, streams and rivers but also in meadows where conditions under-root are damp and soggy. And that’s where I found these Yellow irises yesterday, in an area of damp ground inside a huge motorway roundabout north of Cardiff.
Stinking iris (Iris foetidissima)
Despite its (I think) unjustified name – apparently its leaves when rubbed, emit a smell like stale raw beef, but why would you rub its leaves? – this iris has the most exquisite delicate flowers. It can be found in a variety of habitats, from shady woodland rides to exposed cliff-tops – and that’s where I found this one, flowering happily alongside the coastal path at Lavernock.