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Products > Drimia maritima
Drimia maritima - Sea Squill

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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 crowned with reddish-purple hairs. As the top flowers fade the foliage begins to emerge again. 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 well-drained soil. Drought tolerant in coastal California. Tolerates winter temperatures 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. 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. Soil needs to be freely draining and sandy soils are best but can be grown in heavier soils if on a slope. 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 most 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. The bulb 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. The name Drimia 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.  The information on this page is based on our research that has been conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in the nursery, in the nursery's garden, and in other gardens where it has been observed. We also incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that might aid others in growing  Drimia maritima.