by Stephen Mifsud
   25 Jul 2024      ()
External Links:

Iris xiphium   (Spanish Iris)

Iris xiphium  (IRIDACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

Page Contents + Links

General Information Species Images
External Links Support and sales
Submit information Facebook community
Sponsors & Adverts Copyright notes
Iridaceae Index Plant Family Index
This profile is brought to you by one of the website's sponsors.
[read more...]
Profile Date Dec-2007 (taxon update: Aug-2021)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Iris xiphium - datasheet created on Dec-2007. Retrieved from on 25-Jul-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Iris xiphiumL.
Published in Sp. Pl. : 40 (1753)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Xiphion vulgare Mill.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Iridaceae Juss. (The Iris Family)
23 species from the Iridaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Spanish Iris

Maltese name(s) :

Fjurduliż tal-ġonna

Status for Malta :

Naturalised Alien. Species that was introduced in Malta after year 1492 (Columbus' discovery of the New World) and spreads and integrates to form established, non-invasive populations. Species may become become invasive if it widespreads rapidly.

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: GEOPHYTE ( bearing underground bulbs, rhizomes, stolons, etc. )
Germination [info]: Monocotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

April – May

Colour of Flowers:

Violet or Blue


Mildy toxic, can cause adverse conditions if consumed in large quantities

Name Derivation :

Iris: Greek word for rainbow alluding to the wide variety of colours that the flowers of this genus possess. Iris was also the goddess of the rainbow in Greek mythology. Further info: [1] [2] [3]. (Greek origin )
xiphium: Shaped like a sword alluding to the long narrow leaves. A Greek alternative to Gladiolus (also meaning sword-shaped). (Greek origin )

Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Remarks :

Found once at Majjiesa area where it is still extant. Probably originating from old cultivation and not considered native.

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Data will be available in the next update of this website.
Preferred habitat in Malta: Abandoned derelict fields
Botanical Description: Plant with leaves present through the winter. Bulb ovoid, invested by thin, membranous leaf-bases. Stem 25-50(-80) cm. Lower leaves 20-70 cm x (1-) 3-5 mm, glaucous, the upper shorter and wider and merging gradually into the spathes. Flowers 1(-2), usually violet, with a yellow or orange centre to the falls, rarely mostly yellow; pedicels up to 120 mm; spathes 60-100 mm, herbaceous. Hypanthial tube 1-3 mm. Falls 45-65 x 18-25 mm, glabrous; limb suborbicular; claw 7-10 mm wide, narrowly oblong, distinctly longer than the limb, concealed by the style-branches. Standards 45-65 x 15-20 mm, oblanceolate. Seeds compressed, semicircular, yellowish-brown. Flowering in early (rarely mid-) summer.
Chromosome number: 2n=34
Distributional range: S.W. Europe, extending eastwards to 13° 30' E. in W.C. Italy.

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Corse, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), Portugal, Sardinia
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
Ag Co Ga Hs It Lu Ma Sa Tn [Cy]

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (6 images)
   Iris xiphium   -   Image Code: IRSXI-0.
   Iris xiphium   -   Image Code: IRSXI-1.
   Iris xiphium   -   Image Code: IRSXI-2.
   Iris xiphium   -   Image Code: IRSXI-3.
   Iris xiphium   -   Image Code: IRSXI-4.
   Iris xiphium   -   Image Code: IRSXI-5.

Buy Seeds and Docs
Sales of seeds of wild plants for academic studies, research or personal use. Note that not all species seeds can be exported - depending on Maltese regulations and CITES, and availability depends on season. You are hence kindly requested to first fill and submit a quotation form by which you will get confirmation of the purchase, availability and charges. Currently local orders are not taken.   Online Quotation (Seeds)

Buy images found in this large online collection of Maltese flora photographed by the author (Stephen Mifsud). Prices reasonable and rated differently according size and resolution. Buying images for your projects will support this website. When placing an order please take note of the image code specific for every image in the corresponding species webpage (found beneath each individual photo) since this is required when filling the online ordering form. Images are normally sold as a license with the copyright reserved to the author, but sales of copyright of exceptional images can be considered.   Online Purchase (Images)
Kindly consider to support this website by giving a small donation. This will help to cover some expenses needed to maintain the website and its further development without any adverts. Please login into your PayPal account and use the email: as email address to send your donation   Online Donation

Use this form to submit more information on this species or report mistakes in this webpage. If information supplied is taken from a book, journal or website, please provide the corresponding reference or website address. Your email address is only for internal communication. Please report only Maltese locations for plants that indicated as rare or very rare (refer to the nomenclature section above). Please do report mistakes, broken links, technical errors, typing / grammar errors, misidentifications or taxonomical updates; this will help to improve the website's accuracy. Thanks you! Fill any of the three sections (A/B/C) below and kindly submit the form.     * = required fields.
Plant Species:  *
Your name:   * Your Email:   *
Section A:  Additional Information about this plant species
Own observations: Info from published material (books, journals, website):
Reference of published material:
Section B:   Where have you seen this plant on the Maltese Islands?
Locations in Malta or Gozo where you have seen this plant. Only applies for rare plants.

1:       2:       3:   
4:       5:       6:   
Try to be as concise as possible. Examples: Dingli Cliffs (near chapel), Wied Incita (Zebbug side), Triq il-Kbira (Qormi), Barriera ta' Ghajn Abdul (Xlendi), Fields East of Salib tal-gholja (Siggiewi). GPS co-ordinates are also welcomed!
Section C:  Corrections for mistakes and errors in this plant profile
Section of this page where you found an error (select one)
What is the error/mistake and suggest a correction
AntiSpam Verification: Please answer these simple questions:   80 + 8 =     This website is about
      is supported by:
[ EcoGozo, Ministry for Gozo ] [ Projects in Motion ] [ Sunrise Pet & Garden Centre] [ MycoMalta ]
Webpage is copyright of Stephen Mifsud / - (2002-2022)