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Eryngium maritimum - L.

Common Name Sea Holly, Seaside eryngo
Family Apiaceae or Umbelliferae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Sea shores, preferring sand and shingle whilst avoiding acid soils[17].
Range European coasts, including Britain, from Scandanavia to the Mediterraneanand Baltic, and Black Sea
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Eryngium maritimum Sea Holly, Seaside eryngo

Eryngium maritimum Sea Holly, Seaside eryngo


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Eryngium maritimum is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles. The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.



 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Young shoots - cooked[46, 61, 66]. They are normally blanched by excluding light from the growing plant, and are then used as an asparagus substitute[2, 115, 183]. They are said to be palatable and nourishing[4]. Root - cooked[2]. Used as a vegetable or candied and used as a sweetmeat[5, 66, 115]. Palatable and nutritious[4], it is slightly sweet and smells of carrots[13]. The boiled or roasted roots are said to resemble parsnips or chestnuts in flavour[2, 183].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Aphrodisiac;  Aromatic;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Stimulant;  Tonic.

Sea holly roots were collected on a large scale in the 17th and 18th centuries in England and were candied then used as restorative, quasi-aphrodisiac lozenges[238]. The plant is still used in modern herbalism where it is valued especially for its diuretic action[254]. The root is to be aphrodisiac, aromatic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant and tonic[4, 165, 200]. The root promotes free expectoration and is very useful in the treatment of debility attendant on coughs of chronic standing in the advanced stages of pulmonary consumption[4]. It is used in the treatment of cystitis, urethritis, as a means to alleviate kidney stones (it is unlikely that it dissolves the stones, but it probably helps to retard their formation), and to treat enlargement or inflammation of the prostate gland[254]. Drunk freely, it is used to treat diseases of the liver and kidneys[4, 238]. Used externally as a poultice, the dried powdered root aids tissue regeneration[268]. The root should be harvested in the autumn from plants that are at least 2 years old[4].

Other Uses

Soil stabilization.

The extensive root system helps to bind sand on the sea shore[13].

Cultivation details

Requires a deep well-drained soil and a sunny position[1]. Prefers a light sandy saline soil but tolerates most soil types including lime and poor gravels[200, 268]. Plants are best grown in a hot dry position[187, 233]. Established plants are drought tolerant[190]. Plants are hardy to about -15°c[187]. Sea holly has very long roots that penetrate deeply in the soil and are often several feet long[4]. These roots are sweetly scented[245]. The plant should be placed in its final position whilst small since it resents root disturbance[200]. Although a sea-shore plant, it is amenable to garden cultivation[4]. A good bee plant[108].


Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in early autumn on the surface of a well-drained compost in a cold frame[200]. The seed can also be sown in spring. Germination can be very slow[4], although another report says that the seed usually germinates in 5 - 90 days at 20°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in early spring or autumn. Take care since the plant resents root disturbance[200]. Root cuttings in autumn or winter[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Eryngium aquaticumButton Snakeroot, Rattlesnakemaster02
Eryngium campestreField Eryngo22
Eryngium caucasicum 01
Eryngium creticumEryngo11
Eryngium graecum 20
Eryngium pandanifolium 00
Eryngium planumPlains eryngo, Blue Cap, Eringoe, Eryngo, Flat Sea Holly01
Eryngium ternatum 01
Eryngium viride 10
Eryngium yuccifoliumButton Eryngo02


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