As I walk and hike the coast of Britain I naturally come across many varied and colourful plants. On the coast, they stand out even more. A lonely colour amongst the greens and browns of the marshes and grasses.
Walking along the coast at Morecambe Bay recently, I kept coming across the unmistakable pink clumps of Sea Thrift that adorn the grassy areas not far from the sands. A place only for the hardiest of plants: tides, wind and ever changing ground underfoot.
I wanted to take a closer look at the natural beauty I keep stumbling upon.
Sea Thrift (Armeria maritima) is a hardy, perennial, evergreen plant. It flowers from April time in spring often through October, and as you walk much of the coastline you will see its carpet of pink around you.
It comes from the plant family Plumbaginaceae.
The normal colour of flower is the pink you see here, but they can also be red, purple and a lighter pink, sometimes even white.
The plant grows 6 to 12 inches tall and in clumps. I have noticed as I walk across the marshes that the carpets of these flowers are sporadically spread. Clumps here and there like their own little gangs.
Where To Find Sea Thrift
Finding them by the coast, it’s easy to see where the first part of their non latin name came from. But Sea Thrift grows in many landscapes beyond the coast.
You will find them amongst rocks on mountains, clifftops, in grassy verges by the roadside, and even on certain grasslands. They are also a gardeners favourite so are often seen in people’s gardens too, especially in rock gardens.
They thrive best in dry, sandy or salty soils so our salt marsh coastal areas are perfect for them.
They are native all across the northern hemisphere, especially in Europe.
The Three Pence Coin
In Britain, from 1937 to 1952, Sea Thrift was depicted on the back of the old Three Pence Coin (three bit). This is where the second part of its name, ‘thrift’, comes in.
Thrift is an old English word meaning having the sense to conserve money, or being thrifty. The Sea Thrift name is thought to come from the way its compact leaves conserves and saves the salty moist air around it.
The Three Pence Coin was a really low denomination, and in 1937 times where different, so having a thrifty plant on a thrifty coin was a clever take.
The plant has other various and some local names. As well as Sea Thrift it can be known as Pink Thrift.
In Wales it can also be known as Clustog Fair which then delves into all kinds of translations like Fairy Cushion or Mary’s Pillow.
It is easy to see why the pink carpets of Sea Thrift can catch one’s eye on a coastal walk…as well as the dogs eyes too.
Nature is a wonderful thing, and it is always a joy to take a closer look at the natural wonders in the world around us, no matter how small.