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Drimia maritima flower. Wikimedia
Recommended for your garden in the south of Spain: Drimia maritima
Gardening

Recommended for your garden in the south of Spain: Drimia maritima

Drimia maritima, synonym Urginea maritima commonly called sea squill or sea onion, is a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean

Denise Bush

Malaga

Friday, 22 March 2024

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Drimia maritima, synonym Urginea maritima commonly called sea squill or sea onion, is a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean.

It is resistant to drought and heat once established and will adapt to a variety of soils including sand but will not survive in waterlogged soil. Just before going dormant at the height of summer, it sends up a flower spike nearly a metre tall. The pinkish white flowers open from the bottom up and attract lots of pollinating insects. This flower spike and the fleshy, blue-green leaves make it look a bit like an agave and it is often used to add a structural element to borders, drought gardens or as a specimen plant in a large pot.

Drimia maritima foliage.
Drimia maritima foliage. Wikimedia

Drimia grows from a large bulb and rarely produces bulblets instead splitting in two and eventually forming a large mound.

As it is very sensitive to overwatering, it is best to only bury the lower half of the bulb in soil and never water directly on the crown.

Drimia maritima contains cardiac glycosides that can cause nausea, diarrhoea and stomach pains; extracts were once used as rat poison. However, it has been used for thousands of years to treat numerous illnesses including measles, pneumonia, croup in babies, fever and joint ailments to mention just a few.

The synonym Urginea comes from Beni Urgin, a place or tribal name in Algeria. The genus name Drimia comes from the Greek word meaning acrid or pungent.

It is said that both Pythagoras and Dioscorides hung the bulbs with sprouted leaves outside their doors to ward off evil and, in some areas, people in Greece still display this bulb as part of their Christmas and New Year celebrations.

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