Sea Holly

Botanical Name :  Eryngium campestre /Eryngium maritinum
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Eryngium
Species: E. campestre
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Synonyms: Eryngo. Sea Hulver. Sea Holme.

Common Names:Sea Holly,Field eryngo
(French): Panicaut.
(German): Krausdistel

Habitat :Sea Holly grows Mainly in Central and southern Europe, north to Germany and Holland. Rare in the British Isles. It abounds on most of our sandy seashores(Dry grassy areas near the coast) and is very plentiful on the East Coast, also on the sands of Mounts Bay, Cornwall, but is rare in Scotland. CLICK & SEE

Description:
Sea Holly  is a hairless, thorny perennial plant. The stems, 6 to 12 inches high, thick and solid, are branched at the summit. The radical leaves are on stalks, 2 to 7 inches long, the blades cut into three broad divisions at the apex, coarsely toothed, the teeth ending in spines and undulated.They  are tough and stiff, whitish-green. The basal leaves are long-stalked, pinnate and spiny. The leafs of this plant are mined by the gall fly which is called Euleia heraclei. The margin of the leaf is thickened and cartilaginous. The lower stem-leaves are shortly stalked, resembling the radical ones, but the upper ones are sessile and half embracing the stem, which terminates in a shortly-stalked head, below which it gives off two or three spreading branches, all from one point, which is surrounded by a whorl of three leaves, spreading like the rays of the sun.
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The heads of flowers appear in July and are at first round, afterwards egg-shaped, 3/4 to 1 inch across, the flowers stalkless, whitish-blue, 1/8 inch across. The calyx tube is thickly covered with soft, cartilaginous bristles; the calyx teeth end in a spine.

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The plant is intensely glaucous tinged with blue towards the top, especially on the flowerheads and the leaves immediately below them.

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Cultivation:
Requires a well-drained soil and a sunny position. Prefers a light sandy soil but tolerates most soil types including lime and poor gravels. The plant has deep and wide-ranging roots, it can spread freely in the garden and become difficult to eradicate. Plants should be put in their final position whilst small since they resent root disturbance. The plant is often used in dried flower arrangements since it retains its colour for a long time.

Propagation:   
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in early autumn on the surface of a well-drained compost in a cold frame. The seed can also be sown in spring. It 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. Root cuttings in autumn or winter.

Edible Uses:
Young shoots are cooked as an asparagus substitute. Root – cooked and Used as a vegetable or candied and used as a sweetmeat. Easily digested

Medicinal Uses:
Part Used: The root, dug in autumn, from plants at least two years old.

The root is antispasmodic, aromatic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, galactofuge and stimulant. It should be harvested in the autumn from plants that are at least 2 years old. 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. Drunk freely it is used to treat whooping cough, diseases of the liver and kidneys and skin complaints.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eryngium_campestre
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Eryngium+campestre
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/holsea29.html

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