Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Roast Beef Plant

Common around Byfield are specimens of the Roast Beef Plant.  It is in fact an iris, Iris foetidissima, and its peculiar vernacular name refers to the odd smell of its bruised leaves. Another, more commonly used name is Stinking Gladdon. G. Claridge Druce, writing in 1930, knew it from just two sites in Northants and described it as "very rare". Gill Gent's more recent work, "The Flora of Northamptonshire", published in 1995, only gives eleven locations for the plant. Its frequency around Byfield is therefore a bit of a mystery but it is likely that birds help to distribute the seeds.


I photographed the plant yesterday beside the Village Club, where its bright red seeds, revealed when the fruits split open, caught my attention. These are a more attractive feature than the flowers, which are rather small and of a wishy-washy dull purple colour.

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