Iris xiphium - Spanish Iris

Phylum: Anthophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Asparagales - Family: Iridaceae

Iris xiphium

Above: Spanish Iris on the edge of open woodland in the Algarve.

This tall and stately iris is common in the Iberian Peninsula, but nonetheless beautiful for all that.

Iris xiphium, Spanish Iris, closeup of flower


This iris grows up to 80cm in height and usually has either blue-and-yellow or violet-and yellow flowers typically 6cm across. Mny cultivars of this attractive wildflower have been produced.


This species is native to Spain and Portugal, and it is also recorded from Corsica and some parts of northern Africa.


This plant usually occurs in grassy places such as the open woodland area shown above, but it is also seen occasionally in sandy and rocky ground and on sand dunes.

Iris xiphium on a roadside embankment, Portugal

A roadside display of Spanish Irises near Porches, Algarve region of Portugal.

Blooming times

Spanish Iris Iris xiphia usually flowers from April to May, but in the wild it is unreliable and seems to take some years off.

Similar species

There are yellow forms of this iris occuring in Portugal, where it is called Iris lusitanica, and both forms are encouraged in gardens and for use in floristry.

These specimens were photographed in the Algarve in Portugal during May.

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