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 xiphium Desf. var. lusitanica (Ker-Gawl.) Franco

For a description of the type species see Iris xiphium Desf.  Lusitanica is no more than a colour form of the very variable Iris xiphium differing from the type by having almost entirely yellow falls, rather than blue with a central yellow mark.  

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘The flowers are scentless, expanding in June.  Agrees in habit and in everything, except in what is above mentioned, with Iris xiphium. Found by Clusius in rich spots, as well as on rocky hills, near the Tagus above Lisbon.

Quer, in his Flora Espagnol, makes Iris alata of Lamarck (his Xiphion I. and the Iris bulbosa latifolia, true I. of Clusius) a variety of Iris Xiphium ; though to all appearances no two species can be well more distinct; the first, with Iris (nobis Moreae) Sisyrinchium,we were anxious to have laid before the public, as species so well known to all the older Botanists and Gardeners, but which seem now entirely lost to our collections, for upon repeated searches and inquiries we can no where hear of their now being in this country; Parkinson remarks the difficulty of preserving the former (not enumerated in Hort. Kew. though the latter is) and attributes it to tenderness; which most probably has been the cause of the loss of both. The first is a native of Andalusia, growing in the woods on the Guadiana near Antequera and Cordova, and called by the Spaniards Lirio Espadagnal or Azul; the other is found near Lisbon, where the roots are said to be eaten under the name of Nozelhas; a lesser plant, supposed to be a variety of the last, is found in Valencia.

If, notwithstanding the information we have received, they should still exist in the collection of any friend to our attempts to illustrate this order of plants, we thould be highly obliged by the opportunity being afforded us of describing and figuring them.  Both were lately and perhaps still are cultivated in the Botanic Garden at Paris.’  [BM t.679/1803]. 

Introduced to Britain from Portugal in 1796.  [JD].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [B.239/1843].  An early introduction to the garden, received per ‘Sovereign’ February 1831.  [MP A2948].


Published Nov 03, 2009 - 04:18 PM | Last updated Jul 23, 2010 - 05:29 PM

Figured is an iris with pale yellow flowers with deep yellow falls.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.679, 1803.

Iris xiphium Desf. var. lusitanica (Ker-Gawl.) Franco | BM t.679/1803 | BHL

Family Iridaceae
Region of origin

South West Europe

  • Iris lusitanica Ker-Gawl. 
Common Name

Portuguese iris, Portuguese flag

Name in the Camden Park Record

Iris Lusitanica 

Confidence level high