SEA-HOLLY

Eryngium maritimum

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]  

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8blue
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ5
 
type
typeZclustered
 
type
typeZglobed
 
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8ribbed
ribbed
contact
contactZlowish

20th June 2008, Peel, Isle of Man. Photo: © RWD
Always right near the sea.


1st Aug 2006, Haverigg Sea Shore, Millom. Photo: © RWD
Grows on semi-mobile sand dunes and pebbly shores.


1st Aug 2006, Haverigg Sea Shore, Millom. Photo: © RWD
Has spiny blue-green leaves with a whorl of sharply spiny bracts just below the flower-head.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale Dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The leaves of younger plants are more pf a sea-green rather than blue-green.


1st Aug 2006, Haverigg Sea Shore, Millom. Photo: © RWD
Sea-Holly is an Umbellifer, but un-typical of umbellifers; the flower umbels are shaped into a globe.


1st Aug 2006, Haverigg Sea Shore, Millom. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are a bright powder-blue, almost ultramarine. The ridged stems are also suffused with a steely blue.


1st Aug 2006, Haverigg Sea Shore, Millom. Photo: © RWD
Round stems deeply ridged all around. White filaments extend from the florets with a darker-blue T-bar anther atop.


19th July 2007, north Walney Island. Photo: © RWD
Flowers occur as clumps of five in the flowerhead, more easily seen before they open. Interspersed between the clumps are three-spined barbs, to deter herbivores.


12th Aug 2015, Lytham St Annes, Lancs Coast. Photo: © RWD
The spines are sharly vicious and protrude.


8th July 2009, Ainsdale Dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The stem leaves tend to wrap all around the stem, perfoliata style.


1st Aug 2006, Haverigg Sea Shore, Millom. Photo: © RWD
The lobed and coarsely-toothed bracts just below and surrounding the flower have white veins and very sharp spines. The lobes are broader than most other Eryngium species.


1st Aug 2006, Haverigg Sea Shore, Millom. Photo: © RWD
Spent flower below.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics : there is no other plant quite like this.

No relation to : Holly [a plant with similar name]. Although Sea-Holly has sharply pointed and deeply cusped leaves reminiscent of Holly, it belongs to the umbelliferous [apiaceae] family of plants.

Some similarities to :

  • Field Eryngo (Eryngium campestre) which has much narrower spiny leaves, leaves pale green, white rather than ultramarine blue flowers, and grows in dry and grassy places rather than right by the sea.
  • Blue Globe-Thistle (Echinops bannaticus) which has spherical steel-blue flower-heads but the leaves are not steel-blue and the plant belongs in a differing genus.

The roots of Sea-Holly were once boiled then candied in sugar, to be eaten as a sweet (Eryngo Roots), much like the stems of (Garden) Angelica are today.

In Elizabethan times the Elizabethans believed the roots of Sea-Holly to be a strong aphrodisiac. Indeed, the Romany Gypsies would give Sea-Holly to their stud stallions to make them more virile; a viagra for horses.

A seaside plant that grows very close to the sea, either on mobile sand dunes, or pebbly beaches or on shingle. It belongs to the umbellifers (apiaceae) but is not typical of such. The umbel of flowers is globular in form rather than flat.

The fruits are egg-shaped with hooked spines.

γ-Muurorolene, which is a cadinene (a sesquiterpene with the cadalane skeleton) is a hydrocarbon with a distinctive smell found in Sea-holly, amongst some other plants. Muurolene exists as two stereo-isomers, α-Muurolene and γ-Muurolene, both of which are used in the manufacture of flavouring agents for the food industry. It has a very similar chemical structure to that of the Germacrenes such as Germacrene D.

Sea-Holly contains the tetra-cyclic diterpene Phyllocladene, which is also found in some Australian Gymnosperms especially Phyllocladus aspleniifolius (from which it derives its name), the pine tree Wollemi Pine, and as metabolites in some fungi. Apart from the five-membered ring its chemical structure is very similar to that of the Abietanes


  Eryngium maritimum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Apiaceae  

Distribution
family8Carrot family8Umbelliferae family8Apiaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Eryngium
Eryngium
(Sea-Hollies)

SEA-HOLLY

Eryngium maritimum

Carrot Family [Apiaceae]  

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