Thrift (Armeria maritima)

Also known as: Sea pink
Synonyms: Statice maritima
GenusArmeria (1)
SizeHeight of flower stalk: 5-30 cm (2)
Leaf length: 2-15 cm (3)
Flower diameter: 8 mm (3)

Widespread and common (4).

Thrift or sea-pink is a familiar coastal plant. It forms compact cushions, and has attractive deep pink or occasionally white flowers (5). The flowers have five petals, and occur in groups at the top of a flower spike (known as an inflorescence), which is surrounded by the narrow leaves. The leaves have just a single vein, and often have hairs along the edges; they arise from a visible woody rootstock, which forms the cushions (2). The name 'thrift' is thought to refer to the leaves, which are tightly packed together and conserve water in the salty air (5).

Thrift is found around all of the coasts of Britain. It is often planted in gardens, and occurs as a garden escape in some areas (4). Elsewhere it has a wide distribution throughout the northern hemisphere (3).

Inhabits sea-cliffs, shingle, saltmarshes and stone walls close to the coast. Further inland it can be found up to heights of 1280m on rocky mountain ledges, moss-heaths, on shingle by rivers, and at old lead workings. It may also occur alongside roads that have been treated with salt (4).

Thrift is a perennial species, and flowers each year between April and October (6). The fragrant flowers are visited by a range of flying insects for nectar and pollen (3). There is a very old belief that thrift can cure lead poisoning; this is reflected by the family name of Plumbaginaceae (5).

This species is not threatened.

Conservation action is not needed.

For more information on British plants and their conservation see Plantlife- the wild plant conservation charity:

Visit the website of the Botanical Society of the British Isles at:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (February, 2003)
  2. Hughes, J.R., Armeria maritima. Thrift. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. (February, 2003)
  3. Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. and Moore, D.M. (1987) Flora of the British Isles. 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  4. Preston, C.D., Pearman, D.A. and Dines, T.D. (2002) The New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Mabey, R. (1996) Flora Britannica. Sinclair-Stevenson, London.
  6. Press, B. and Gibbons, B. (1993) Photographic field guide to wild flowers of Britain and Europe. New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd, London.