Iris pallida 'Dalmatica'
Common Name: Dalmatian iris 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Iridaceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 3.25 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Lavender-purple
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer


Best grown in evenly moist, humusy, well-drained soils in full sun. Adding sand as an amendment to heavier soils can help increase drainage. Established plants tolerate some dry conditions. Divide in late summer as needed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Iris pallida is commonly known as Dalmatian iris because it is native to Dalmatia, a province of Croatia. It is also native to the southern Alps. It is a rhizomatous bearded iris that features sword-shaped, grey-green leaves (to 24” long) and sweetly fragrant, pale lavender-blue flowers with yellow beards. Flowers (3-5” across) appear in late spring to early summer atop sparsely-branched scapes rising to 40” tall. Spathes are white and papery. The species is sometimes cultivated as a source of orris (an essential oil extracted from the rhizomes), which is used as a preservative in perfumes, breath fresheners, and spirits. Also commonly known as sweet iris, orris or orris root.

Genus named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow.

Specific epithet means pale.

'Dalmatica' is an heirloom iris cultivar first recorded in 1597. This variety has been cultivated for centuries to produce orris, which is used to preserve the aromas of many products particularly perfumes and gins. The sweetly fragrant flowers are a muted lavender-purple in color and held on 3' tall stalks above the upright, green-grey, sword-like foliage. After the bloom period in the early summer, the foliage retains its color and texture throughout the growing season. In warm climates this variety is semi-evergreen. Will spread slowly by rhizomes to fill a 1-1.5' area.


No serious insect or disease problems. Less susceptible to iris borer compared to modern bearded irises. Will do poorly in heavy, wet soils or shady conditions. Deer and rabbits avoid this plant.


A good selection for the front of a mixed border or close to a path or walkway where its sweet scent can be enjoyed. Does not do well in containers.