Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Armeria maritima

I was in the Liz Christy Garden last week, trying to come up with a new route for my summer students, when I saw a sweet little stand of sea thrift, or Armeria maritima, growing at my feet. Unfortunately the light was fading so I only have a few fairly uncreative shots.

As both the common and scientific names would imply, sea thrift thrives in sandy, dry or even rocky conditions much like those you'd find near the beach.

An interesting (to me, at least) story about sea thrift: In 1937 the silver three-pence coins were becoming too small to feel substantial in the hands of their owners so a more substantial coin made primarily of brass, was printed. On the reverse side, a three-stemmed thrift appeared. As brass is largely composed of copper, the appearance of Armeria makes sense, as this plant can grow with a large amount of copper in the soil. It's likely this plant served as an indicator plant, telling miners where to dig.

Armeria is the Latin word for Dianthus (Dianthus itself is Greek), indicating that sea thrift looks a bit like a pink, or Dianthus.

1 comment:

Stephanie Diehl said...

This is one of our favorites but we have a terrible time with it. Only one very small patch grows in our garden. We have planted it about 5 times without success. It never returns in our perennial garden :(