Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Dietes iridioides (L.) Sweet ex Klatt

Very hardy, evergreen, rhizomatous, iris-like plant with a fan of basal leaves and white flowers, with yellow marks, in spring and summer.  Individual flowers last only one day but continue in succession for many weeks.  To 60cm.  [RHSE, Hortus, CECB].  

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘Found by Thunberg in the interior of the Cape country in Hottentot’s Holland, in a wood not far from Sea-Cow River, near a house called Kock’s-Farm.  Cultivated by Miller in 1758, who received the seeds from the Cape, under the title of “White Water-Lily”; it is of the easiest culture, and will grow many years together (without parting or removing) in the same pot; requires plenty of water; blooms several weeks in succession during the Summer months,; produces seed in abundance; owing to which and its long standing in the country it is now one of the commonest of its tribe in our collections; has no smell.

Our drawing was taken at the Botanic Gardens, Brompton.  We are rather surprised it has not before been discovered to be the same with Thunberg’s Iris compressa; his description is full and correct.’  [BM t.693/1803].

History at Camden Park

Listed only in the 1857 catalogue [B.107/1857].  Naturalised at Camden Park.  It has been widely planted in Australia as a hardy, trouble-free, drought resistant plant and is now a significant weed in parts.


Published Oct 19, 2009 - 04:47 PM | Last updated Jul 23, 2010 - 11:52 AM

Figured are sword-like leaf and white iris-like flower with yellow markings.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.693, 1803.

Dietes iridioides (L.) Sweet ex Klatt | BM t.693/1803 | BHL

Family Iridaceae
Region of origin

South Africa, Cape district

  • Moraea iridioides L.
  • Iris moraeoides Ker-Gawl.
  • Iris compressa Thunb. 
Common Name

African iris, Cape iris, Fortnight lily

Name in the Camden Park Record

Dietes Iridoides 

Confidence level high