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Lindsay's Flora Blog - 6th July

Posted: Monday 6th July 2020 by trustadmin

 Sea Holly Eryngium maritimum

Sea Holly is one of my favourite coastal plants and is one I always look forward to seeing after the spring flowering on the cliffs has finished. It grows on sand and shingle above the high tide line by the sea, and is in flower from June to September, with some of the best displays on Alderney being along Platte Saline, although it is found on many of the other beaches too.

It is a native plant and is unmistakable with its spiny blue-green leaves and stunning metallic powder blue flowers in rounded teasel-like heads with broad spiny bracts. It is also ideally adapted to its habitat. The leaves have white veins and edges giving the impression of having been frosted: this is caused by the covering of waxy cuticle which helps to reduce water loss. The blue-green colour of the leaves reflects the heat of the sun better than plain green leaves and the deep tap root, which anchors it firmly in place in windswept conditions, allows it to tap into water deep below the surface.

In the past candies were made from the plant’s roots - they were peeled, boiled, and cut into slivers which were twisted together and then covered with sugar and were considered to have aphrodisiac properties.

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