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Products > Drimia maritima
Drimia maritima - Sea Squill
Image of Drimia maritima
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Bulb/Tuber/Rhizome etc.
Family: Hyacinthaceae (~Amaryllidaceae)
Origin: Mediterranean (Europe)
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Summer
Synonyms: [Urginea maritima, Scilla maritima]
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
May be Poisonous  (More Info): Yes
Drimia maritima (Sea Squill) - A large bulb to 12" wide or more that often rests partially above ground and produces 12-18" long by 4-inch wide glaucus blue-green strap-shaped leaves that emerge in late fall and last into the following summer. Instead of forming bulbils as basal offsets this bulb splits dichotomously, forming 2 bulbs for each one and eventually making a large clump. During the summer, the leaves diminish and in late summer into fall emerge tall stalks rising to 3 to 4 feet with tightly clustered, pink-tinged white flower buds that open from the bottom up to expose the star shaped white flowers with yellow centers that produce bird and bee attracting nectar. The tip of the inflorescence is also crowned with reddish-purple hairs. As the top flowers fade the foliage begins to emerge. Layers of heavy papery tunics cover the bulbs which protects from sun scalding and even fire in its natural habitat the flowers of this bulb are noted emerging in an otherwise blackened post fire landscape.

Plant in full sun to light shade in a soil that is freely draining and sandy soils are best but can be grown in heavier soils if on a slope or mound. It is drought tolerant in coastal California but excepts more regular irrigation when not dormant and tolerates winter temperatures down to 20 to 25 degrees, but best to protect from temperatures below 28 F that can damage foliage and discourage flowering. Gophers reportedly do not eat this plant and in fact early work on it was for its value as a rodenticide. A great plant for the dry garden or used in large container and an excellent long lasting cut flower. Plant in the garden with only the top inch of the bulb above ground level and spaced well enough to allow individual clumps to spread - the recommendation is 18 to 24 inches apart.

This plant is widely distributed throughout the shores and islands of the Mediterranean Sea, in southern Europe east from southern France through South Western Asia (Israel, Syria, Lebanon) and across North Africa to Morocco and on the major islands of Cyprus, Crete, Malta and surrounding smaller islands. We have long grown this plant as Urginea maritima, the name this plant was first described as by British botanist John Gilbert Baker (1834-1920) in The Journal of the Linnean Society. Botany in 1872, but more recently it has been reclassified and combined into the genus Drimia as Drimia maritima. As this name has received general recognition, we now offer it under this newer name.

Drimia maritima has a long history of medicinal uses and was once used to treat croup in babies. Containing a cardiac glycoside, the plant was also used for making a poison for rodents, however if eaten by other mammals (including humans), it is considered a low-level toxin that causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain.

The name Urginea comes from Beni Urgin, a place or tribal name in Algeria where one member of the genus is native and the current name for the genus is from the Greek word 'drimys', which means "acrid" or "pungent" likely for the sap which is considered irritating. The specific epithet is in reference to this plant growing near the sea but this plant is more commonly found inland from the ocean. Other common names include Red Squill, Sea Onion and White Squill. We have grown this plant at the nursery since 1993 from seed collected at Franceschi Park in Santa Barbara. Our larger blooming sized plants came from Agave authority and botanist Howard Scott Gentry's ranch in Murrieta, California. 

This information about Drimia maritima displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.