This showy plant graces many country lanes from July to September with a wonderful display of spikes of bright reddish-orange flowers. A familiar sight in the west of Ireland particularly, it is taken by many to be one of our native plants, along with Fuchsia. However, like Fuchsia, this is an introduction to our shores and is a hybrid between two South African species.
Nevertheless it is a very attractive sight and seems to blend in to our landscape, particularly in places where it grows alongside our native Purple Loosetrife. The flowers (25-55mm) are in a one-sided loose panicle and have a corolla which is tubed with six lobes. The three stamens protrude. The grass-like leaves are long and narrow. This plant belongs to the family Iridaceae.
This plant was named after Coquebert de Montbret (1780-1801) who was a French botanist who accompanied Napoleon when he invaded Egypt in 1798 and who died there at the age of 20. However, horticulturists also refer to this plant as ‘Crocosmia’ which comes from the Greek ‘krokos’ – saffron – and ‘osme’ – smell. I am told that they smell of saffron when placed in water but honestly I cannot confirm that this is so.