Sea Holly, Burnham Ovary, David North 1/3
Sea holly, Blakeney Point, Maurice Funnell 2/3
Sea holly, Burnham Overy, Bob Carpenter 3/3

Sea Holly Eryngium maritimum

The sea holly is a beautiful and easily recognisable coastal plant, with blue/green spiky leaves and metallic blue flowers which develop between June and September.

Conservation status

Up to the end of the 19th century the roots of this plant were dug up and candied for use as a sweetmeat and restorative. It is possible that this practice had a significant effect on the distribution of the plant from which it is only now recovering. Sea holly is still common, though thinly spread plant along favourable areas of the Norfolk coastline, and some indicators suggest a slow extension of its range. The major threat to the long term survival and spread of the plant is erosion of its sand dune habitat resulting from either climatic change or human activity. The Norfolk Biodiveristy Action Plan, comprises Habitat Action Plan (HAP) and Species Action Plans (SAP), one of which is titled 'Coastal Sand Dunes', this HAP plan recognises the need to put measures in place to protect the existing habitat and where possible enhance or expand this precious resource.

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Did you know? In Elizabethan times the candied roots of the plant were believed to be a strong aphrodisiac. They were cited in Shakespear’s play ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ in a speech by Falstaff.

....Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of ‘Green Sleeves;’ hail kissing-comfits and snow eringoes (sea holly); let there come a tempest of provocation, I will shelter me here....
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