Uniquely identifiable characteristics : there is no other plant 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.
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