Eryngium (Sea Holly)

Part of the celery plant family, the sea holly, or Eryngium, is a genus of around 250 different species, some of which are annual varieties, and some are perennials.

The biggest number of different species comes from South America, but most come from parts of Europe.

Eryngiums are highly-prized ornamental plants, bringing a wealth of beneficial insects into your garden, while introducing lots of vivid color and architectural beauty, too.

Behind The Name: What Does Eryngium Mean?

Eryngium, the name of the genus, was originally described by Theophrastus, who succeeded Aristotle in the Peripatetic school of philosophy in Ancient Greece.

The common name for these plants, the sea holly, refers to its place in myth, where the plant was believed to help cure the bite of a rattlesnake.

Eryngium Meaning And Symbolism

Give someone an eryngium, and you could be sending a very mixed message.

On the one hand, you might be suggesting that the recipient is a very independent person and this is what you like about them, or, you think they are a bit too direct, and a situation calls for them to have less of a ‘prickly’ attitude!

Sea hollies also represent attraction and honesty.

Sea Holly Uses

Sea hollies are useful plants, not just for their ornamental purposes in the garden, or as dried flowers, but they also have other applications, too.

Many types of eryngium are actually edible, and some have medicinal properties. 

For medicinal purposes, some sea hollies are employed as a tea to help lower blood sugar, and others are used to treat scorpion stings.

In terms of culinary use, the roots are perfect for vegetables and sweets, and new growth and leaves can be treated as a substitute for asparagus. 

Eryngium foetidum is treated as a herb across both Americas and Asia, and has a taste so similar to cilantro that they can be confused.

Eryngium Growing Guide

Eryngiums are hardy in USDA zones 3 through to 9, and bloom from summer into fall, for as long as the weather allows.

Eryngium flowers are usually blue, but you may also see them in shades of purple, green, or greenish-white.

Sea hollies can range anywhere from 1 foot to 5 feet tall, which is dictated by the species and the growing conditions.

They love full sunlight, and while they’re not picky about the soil type, it must drain well, otherwise the plants will simply die.

They’re also a great choice for xeriscaping, as they need very little water, and they’re low maintenance, too.

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