Iris foetidissima

Stinking iris

Family: Iridaceae

Origin: Europe, North Africa

Stinking Iris seed capsules open showing seed.
Seeds are fruity orange berries that are attractive to birds. Birds will eat the seed and take it further away, dispersing the iris across areas.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Not a legally declared pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Clump-forming rhizomatous perennial herb < 80 cm tall. Leaves are sword-shaped, leathery, dark green and foul-smelling when crushed. Flowers are pale yellow with green-brown/brown-purple markings and borne on erect stem. Fruits are three-sided capsules that split open to release many round, red seeds.

What you need to know

Although stinking iris is not a legally declared pest plant, it may still be invasive in some situations. Consider lower risk alternatives for your garden, such as native plants.


Disturbed forest, forest and riparian margins, shrubland, scrub, coastal areas, wasteland, roadsides.


Seeds dispersed by birds and gravity. Vegetative spread from rhizome fragments, dispersed by water. Human-mediated dispersal through dumping of garden waste, deliberate plantings and movement of contaminated soil and machinery.

Impact on environment

Forms dense clumps, displacing native vegetation and preventing native seedling recruitment. Poisonous to humans and livestock.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: All parts.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water.

Certified handler/experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

A clump of Stinking Iris in flower.
Flowers are a pale yellow with green, brown and purple markings. Once pollinated flowers form into a three sided capsule full of seed.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Close up of Stinking Iris flowers.
A perennial herb that grows up to 80cm tall and forms clumps. Leaves are sword shaped and dark green and are a foul smell when crushed.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow