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Common Name: Sea Squill
Urginea maritima is a Bulb up to 1.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials..
The bulb is poisonous in large doses[
]. The red form especially has a fairly specific action on rats[
]. The fresh bulb contains an acrid juice that can cause skin blisters[
Europe - Mediterranean.
Dry sandy places, especially near the coast[
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil according to one report[
], whilst another says that it requires a very free draining gritty or sandy soil in full sun[
]. The bulbs have a summer resting period and should be kept dry at this time[
]. Some protection from winter wet is strongly recommended[
]. Easily grown in a warm sunny position[
A very ornamental plant, it is not very hardy in Britain according to one report[
], whilst another says that it can be grown in N. European gardens[
] though it does not flower very freely there[
]. Another report says that the plant can tolerate temperatures down to about -7°c[
]. The bulb should be only partially buried[
This species is cultivated in the Mediterranean area for its use in the drug industry[
]. The bulbs are harvested after 6 years growth with a yield of about 25,000 bulbs per hectare[
There are two main forms of this species, one has a white bulb and the other has a red one. The red bulb is the form that is used as a rat poison whilst the white bulb is used as a cardiotonic. Another report says that herbalists do not distinguish between the two forms[
]. Only the red form contains the rat poison 'scilliroside', though both forms can be used medicinally[
The bulb is very tenacious of life, one specimen that had been stored for 20 years in a museum was found to be trying to grow[
A good bee plant[
Sea squill contains cardiac glycosides which are strongly diuretic and relatively quick-acting[
]. They do not have the same cumulative effect as those present in foxglove (Digitalis spp.)[
]. The bulb has been widely used by herbalists, mainly for its effect upon the heart and for its stimulating, expectorant and diuretic properties[
]. The fresh bulb is slightly more active medicinally than the dried bulb, but it also contains a viscid acrid juice that can cause skin inflammations[
This is a very poisonous plant and it should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[
The dried bulb is cardiotonic, strongly diuretic, emetic when taken in large doses and expectorant[
]. The bulb can weigh up to 2 kilos[
]. It is used internally in the treatment of bronchitis, bronchitic asthma, whooping cough and oedema[
] and is a potential substitute for foxglove in aiding a failing heart[
]. The bulb is harvested in the autumn, sliced transversally and dried for later use[
Externally, the bulb has been used in the treatment of dandruff and seborrhoea[
The red bulb form of this species contains the poisonous substance 'scilliroside'[
]. This substance is poisonous to rodents but does not kill other species (which vomit instead)[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse[
]. Sow the seed thinly so that the seedlings can be left in the pot for their first growing season. Give them regular liquid feeds when in active growth to ensure that they do not suffer nutrient deficiency. Divide the young bulbs once the plant becomes dormant, placing 2- 3 bulbs in each put. Grow them on for at least another year in pots and plant them out into their permanent positions when they are dormant.
Division of offsets in late summer when the bulb is dormant[
]. Larger bulbs can be replanted immediately into their permanent positions. It is probably best to pot up smaller bulbs and grow them on in a greenhouse for a year before planting them out when they are dormant in late summer.