Greco-Latin name eryngion — the name of a prickly plant, possibly in this genus. Possibly derived from eryngano — to belch, as the plant was used as a remedy for flatulence.
Annual or perennial hairless herbs, occasionally shrubs. Leaves entire, palmately or pinnately lobed or divided into 3 lobes, often prickly. Flower clusters usually branched, the flowers stalkless, in cylindrical or spherical heads with 3 or more basal bracts. Flowers bisexual, white, green, mauve or blue. Sepals stiff. Petals narrow, with the tips incurved. Fruit ovoid, the segments faintly ribbed and covered with scales.
Sometimes grown for the architectural spiky foliage and attractively coloured flower heads. A number of species has become naturalised, including E. pandanifolium Cham. & Schltdl. in swampy areas near Sydney, and E. maritimum L., the silvery-blue Sea Holly from Europe, on coastal sand dunes in parts of NSW.
Seed and division.
E. pandanifolium is the source of a fibre, the sugared roots of E. campestre and E. maritimum are used as a confection and an extract of some species may be used as a tonic.
Prickly leaves and dense, round to cylindrical flower heads surrounded by stiff, spiky bracts.
About 230 species from tropical to temperate regions. 4 species are native to Australia.
Source: (2002). Apiaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 4. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 3. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.