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.

Iris spuria L. subsp. spuria

Fully-hardy, robust, very variable, rhizomatous iris with tough, broad leaves and branched stems bearing several blue, yellow or white flowers in summer.  To 90cm.  [RHSE, Hortus, Lynch].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘Some plants afford so little diversity of character that an expressive name can scarcely be assigned them; such is the present plant, or Linnaeus would not have given it the inexpressive name of spuria, nor we have adopted it.  This species is distinguished by the narrowness of its leaves, which emit a disagreeable smell when bruised, by the colour of its flowers, which are of a fine rich purple inclining to blue, and by its hexangular germen.  It is a native of Germany, where, as Professor Jacquin informs us, it grows in wet meadows; is a hardy perennial, thrives in our gardens in almost any soil or situation, flowers in June, and is propagated by parting its roots in Autumn.’    [BM t.58/1788]. 

‘The species was cultivated by Miller in 1759, [at the Chelsea Physic Garden, the first report in Britain] but is now seldom seen, except in Botanic Gardens.’  [OFG f.103/1854].  BM t.875/1805.

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [B.254/1843].


  • Iris spuria Rchb. =Iris spuria L. ssp. halophila (Pall.) B.Mathew & Wendelbo., synonym Iris gueldenstaedtiana Lepech. which see.
  • Iris spuria Pall. (1776) = Iris ensata Thunb. which see.
  • Iris spuria Bertol. (1833) = Iris foetidissima L.

Published Nov 07, 2009 - 04:30 PM | Last updated Jul 23, 2010 - 05:18 PM

Figured is a non-bearded iris with broad leaves and branched stem bearing blue flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.58, 1788.

Iris spuria L. ssp. spuria | BM t.58/1788 | BHL

Family Iridaceae
Region of origin

Europe and Asia

Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Iris spuria 

Confidence level high