Eryngium maritimum is an evergreen perennial plant native to Europe and often found on sea shores, it is a protected species in many parts of the world. It is a highly ornamental plant often grown in gardens for its metallic bluish flowers and intensely whitish-glaucous leaves.
Sea-holly is a plant for coastal areas, maritime, wildlife and rock gardens. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought and maritime exposure, it needs sun as it cannot grow in the shade. Its simple, misty-blue flower heads, similar to teasels, are very attractive to bees and butterflies.
Sea holly roots were collected on a large scale in the 17th and 18th centuries in England. They were candied and known as eringoes eaten as sweetmeats and regarded as an aphrodisiac obviously appreciated by Falstaff,
"Let the sky rain potatoes, . . . hail kissing-comfits and snow eringoes,
let there come a tempest of provocation . . ."
The boiled or roasted roots are slightly sweet and said to resemble parsnips or chestnuts in flavour. The young, tender flowering shoots can be eaten like Asparagus.
Sowing: Sow October to February or March to September
The seeds may need a period of cold to enable them to germinate.
Sea holly has very long roots that penetrate deeply in the soil and are often several feet long. The plant should be placed in its final position whilst small since it resents root disturbance
Sowing October to February.
Sow in John Innes seed compost or something similar, cover with a thin layer of compost. After watering place the seed container in an unheated greenhouse or coldframe.
Germination is irregular, between 5 and 90 days. As each seed germinates we would recommend that you transplant into its own pot to grow on.
Sowing March to February.
During the warmer months, you can “imitate the winter” by using the following method of stratification:
Sow in John Innes seed compost or something similar, place each container in a polythene bag and put into the refrigerator (not the freezer compartment) for 2-3 weeks. (Fridges are the deal temperature at around 4°C (39°F)
After this time place the containers outside in a cold frame or plunge them up to the rims in a shady part of the garden border and cover with glass or clear plastic. As each seed germinates transplant into its own pot.
Although you can cut back flower stems after flowering the seedheads are a very attractive feature so are usually left over winter. Division in early spring or autumn. Take care since the plant resents root disturbance.
Costal or Gravel Gardens. Cottage/Informal Gardens, Flower Arranging, Borders and Beds, Wildlife Gardens Attractive to Bees and Butterflies.
Beloved of flower arrangers for their striking foliage and flower heads.
Simply cut with a knife or secateurs. The difficulty is deciding when the stem is ready for cutting. In general, the flowers on the stem should be turning an appropriate blue colour. This process can take up to 10 days from the time it is first noticed.
Eryngium is a genus in the family Apiaceae of about 230 species of annuals and perennials with hairless and usually spiny leaves, and dome-shaped umbels of flowers resembling those of thistles.
The genus has a cosmopolitan distribution, with the centre of diversity in South America. Some species are native to rocky and coastal areas, but the majority are grassland plants.
Common names include Sea-holly and Eryngo, the former typically being applied to coastal species, and the latter to grassland species. Related species are grown as ornamental plants in gardens, and these may also be called 'sea holly', though the majority are not associated with littoral (sea-shore) habitats.
Despite its name and appearance, this is unrelated to the more familiar holly and is in fact an umbellifer: one of that large and confusing family which includes the parsleys, carrots and parsnips.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 10 Seeds Family Apiaceae Genus Erngium Species maritimum Cultivar Wildflower of Britain and Ireland Common Name Seaside Eryngo, Sea Holly.
Ancient Crop. Wildflower of Britain and Ireland
Other Common Names Sea Holly, Sea Holm Other Language Names IR. Cuilleann trá. FR: Panicaut maritime Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Blue Natural Flower Time July to August Foliage Pale Grey/Silver in summer Height 50cm (20in) Spread 45cm (18in) Position Full Sun Aspect All aspects, exposed or sheltered Soil Well-drained/light, Moist, Sandy Time to Sow Late winter/late spring and late summer/autumn.