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Any of about 300 species of flowering plants of the genus Gladiolus, in the iris family, native to Europe, Africa, and the Mediterranean and widely cultivated for cut flowers. The flowering spike, which springs from a corm, reaches 2–3 ft (60–90 cm) in height and has many funnel-shaped flowers, all clustered on one side of the stem. There are six petal-like floral parts and sparse, swordlike leaves. Cultivated gladioli, which come in all colours, have been developed mostly from southern and eastern African species.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on gladiolus, visit Britannica.com.