Information on sea-holly

Common Name: sea-holly
Scientific Name: Eryngium maritimum
Irish Name: Cuilleann trá
Family Group: Apiaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
sea-holly is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

Well-known wildflower of coastal places, shingle and sandy beaches, this upright 50cm high perennial is easily identified by its blue-green, prickly, holly-like leaves.  The plant is tinged with blue all over, even before the powder-blue flowers appear.  These tiny blue flowers are held in dense, globular umbels and are backed by blue-tinged spiny leaflike bracts.  They bloom from June to August. The broad leaves are leathery, stiff and have white margins and veins.  This is not a typical plant of the Apiaceae family as its flowers are in a simple umbel only.  It is a native plant. 

I first identified this plant in 1977 in Derrynane, Co Kerry and I photographed it at Ballyteigue, Co Wexford in 2008.   

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Herbal concoctions and candies made from the roots of this plant were regarded as having aphrodisiac properties in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  This website has no recommendation to make in this regard.