I have collected together a selection of the sea hollies we grow so that it easy for you to compare them all side by side. This is a permanent post, and so may depict varieties that show up as not available from time to time. if you can see a variety that you would like, just give us a ring to see where it is in the production schedule.
To explore Eryngiums further maybe try the buttons below
This plant is the Mexican representative of a related group of Sea Hollies, all of which have long spine-edged strap-like leaves. (The related South American species include E. agavifolium, E.bromeliiflorum and E.eburneum.) When well grown in a sunny, fertile site it will grow up to 80cm tall with large heads which are quite distinctive. The central pincushion of true flowers can be quite broad and somewhat flattened in typical shades of blue whilst the surrounding bracts are silvery white and relatively undivided, clustered around the center like a fence of out-turned knives. An ideal species for drying.
As its name suggests, Eryngium bourgatti Grahan Stuart Thomas’s selection is the excellent form selected by the renowned plantsman, Graham Stuart Thomas; Recommendaton enough for most people. It really is quite distinct from the species, being a good deal shorter than the type, stiffer in its growth with much richer colouring. The bracts are longer and thinner too. Overall the whole feel of the plant is neater, finer and richer in texture than the species. A real stunner.
- Eryngium bourgatii . Rosettes of deeply cut crisp, curly grey-green leaves with silver veins make a notable feature all on their own. The clump gives rise to branching spikes of blue-green thistles with blue spiky bracts that begin silver. A beautiful plant all year 60cm (2ft) high which needs well drained soil in full sun. Great for the bees
An exceptional sea holly adorned in mid-late summer with large collared heads of brilliant steely blue, further enhanced by the beautiful blue hue of the stems. 60cm. Sun and good drainage. Much loved by bees. Eryngium x oliverianum is a wild hybrid, possibly from E.alpinum but of uncertain parentage. The exquisite ruff is beautifully divided and of a brilliant blue. William Robinson said ‘The stems are so singularly beautiful with their vivid steel-blue tints …. with the involucre even more brilliant, that the effect is hardly excelled.’. Along with the hybrids under E. x zabellii they form the cream of the eryngiums. 60cm, May to August
- Eryngium x zabelii (Eryngium bourgatii x Eryngium alpinum). A beautiful hybrid between E. alpinum and E. bourgatii. 60-75cm (2-2.5ft) high with large silvery / steely blue collars, attractively cut but less frilly than in E. alpinum. This gorgeous hybrid is more vigorous and easier and longer lived than either of its parents. The flowers, which are loved by bees, start more silver and intensify their blue colouration as they age. They are produced July-August and dry really well.
This is really a very fine Sea Holly indeed in more than one sense of the word. Eryngium ‘Pen Blue’ is in the x zabelii family with sea-green tripartite leaves. The flowers are borne on 60cm violet stems and are a picture of beauty. The collar is particularly wide in comparison to the central cone and its segments, radiating like the spokes of the devil’s chariot are narrow, spiky and a striking electric Blue. Further adding to the effect, the flowers are beautifully arranged and composed with the secondary flowers slightly smaller and held a little lower. Altogether a class act and a magnet for the bees.
Eryngium x zabelii ‘Jos Eijking’ is a Dutch hybrid and one of the best of the crosses made between E.alpinum and E.bourgatii. It is vigorous in growth and has large long-lasting heads of a bright metallic blue. Likes a position in full sun in not too rich a soil and not too wet. 75cm
- Eryngium giganteum – Miss Willmott’s Ghost.Flowering stems branch and branch until they form a wide heads of silver white cones surrounded by large silver bracts. A marvellous architectural plant and an eery presence in the half light. This plant can behave as a biennial or short lived perennial dependent on situation and how well it grow in its first year. Whichever it will usually seed itself around to provide replacements. 60cm tall, Summer.This plant earned itself its common name ‘Miss Willmotts Ghost from the habit of Ellen Willmott – a spiky character herself – carrying seeds of this plant in her pocket and sprinkling them in gardens she visited. In this way she silently left a trail of the plant in her wake.
- Eryngium planum. Sea holly. Spiky flower heads in shades of steely metallic blue. Foliage is simple and well rounded and the flower heads are tall and stiff, well branched, airy and well furnished with flowers. Loved by bees and butterflies as a nectar source, ( though not brilliant to our nose ! ). Good for drying for winter arrangements. well drained site in full sun.
Eryngium planum ‘Jade Frost’ has lovely pink flushed foliage has a crinkled cream edge which combines beautifully with the slightly grey green of the leaf as it matures. Evergreen. Flowers are typical of Eryngium planum and start a ghostly white, ever so slowly turning a good deep amethyst. The whole plant is relatively short at 40cm
Eryngium planum ‘Blue Glitter’ is a richly branched eryngium with 80cm high strong stems carrying a multitude of deep blue, cone-shaped flowers with brilliant deep-blue spiky collars. Even the ‘trunk’ and the stems are coloured metallic blue. Absolute magnet for insects. Juy-September. ( former winner of the Fleuro-select Award )
(Eryngium descaisneum) If you are looking for a real talking point then this is the one for you. Eryngium pandanifolium ‘Physic Purple’ is bold, architectural and takes no prisoners. The foliage is a narrow 2cm wide and can be 1.5m long, evenly spiky all along its edge. It forms a dense grassy fountain, from the centre of which rises the star of the show. The flowering spike can rise 2.5m high or more, branched all the way up like a small tree to form a cylindrical cage of small deep maroon cones. Quite the show-stopper. The species grows naturally in South America, being found in marshes and wet fields. 2-4m. Hardy to -10C . Has a reputation for being less hardy but should be OK if grown in sun and not left to sit too wet in winter.
Like their cousins, the Astrantias, Eryngiums are members of the Umbelliferae (Apiaceae), a fact that only becomes apparent on close inspection of the flowers. Each flower is in fact a composite head of many smaller flowers, with the branched umbrella like structure of most umbellifers being compacted down into a central cone. They are known for the silvery and blue shades that these flowers take on and for the excellent drying qualities of the flower heads.
As a rule the Sea Hollies all prefer a well drained root run in full sun, although some, such as Eryngium x zabellii grow perfectly well in a clay soil that is not too wet. They tolerate excessive lime, gravel and poor soils extremely well. In colder. Wetter areas it can be beneficial to remove dead foliage from the crown prior to the winter to avoid crown rot.
Eryngium is large genus of around 200 species, many of which are garden worthy plants.
One member of the Eryngium genus, the British native Eryngium maritimum has a long history of medicinal and culinary use. The roots are the part used and were considered by the Arabs as an excellent restorative. They used to be sold candided in London markets and were probably the ‘kissing comfits’ referred to by Falstaff in ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ – ‘Let the sky rain potatoes;..hail kissing comfits, and snow eryngoes..’ Their popularity in Britain of eryngo root peaked in the 18th century.
The latin name Eryngium possibly derives from the Greek ‘eruggarein’ – to eructate, a reference to the use of the plant to alleviate flatulent disorders. An alternative derivation may be that it is a diminutive of the word ‘errungos’, the beard of a goat. If you prefer it may be from ‘eryingion’ a name used by Theophrastus.
Plutarch relates the following story which may provide a connection:- ‘they report of the sea holly, if one goat taketh it into her mouth, it causes her first to stand still and afterwards the whole flock, until such time as the shepherd takes it from her.’