Eryngium: characteristics, species and cultivation

The Eryngium are a type of thistle with really showy flowers. Although we are talking about thorny plants, that does not mean that they cannot be used to decorate a garden; In fact, I am convinced that you will enjoy them a lot if you plant them, for example, in those areas where you do not want animals to enter.

Even if you don’t have land to put them on, they will also look gorgeous in a pot. Yes indeed. to avoid problems it is important that you do not place them in a sunny areaas they need it to grow.

Origin and characteristics of the Eryngium

Eryngiums are herbs found throughout the world, especially in South America, North Africa, Europe, and Asia. They belong to the family apiaceae, and there are an estimated 250 different specieswhich can be annual (that is, they live only one year or less), biannual (they live about two years) or perennial (they live more than two years).

Their height also varies a lot, since there are some that reach 30 centimeters, and there are others that touch two meters. The leaves are linear to orbicular, whole or, more frequently, divided into pinnae or lobed. They almost always have thorns.

As for the flowers, they are grouped in capitular, racemose or panicular inflorescences, and are white, blue or purple in color. Once pollinated, they produce small globose or obovoid fruits.

Main species

The most popular species of Eryngium are the ones that you will be able to see below. Take a look and discover for yourself their ornamental value:

Eryngium alpinum

Eryngium alpinum is a bluish-flowered herb

The Eryngium alpinum It is a spiny perennial herb native to Europe. Specifically, it grows in the Alps and the Balkans. Reaches a height of 60 centimetersand has spiny leaves between 8 and 15 centimeters long. Its flowers measure about 4 centimeters and are bluish or whitish.

Eryngium bourgatii

Eryngium bourgatii is a perennial herb

The Eryngium bourgatii It is a perennial herb with thorns that we find in the Iberian Peninsula, specifically in the Pyrenees and Central System. It is popularly known as panical thistle, white thistle or Magdalena thistle. Grows up to 45 centimeters talland has leaves which are between 3 and 7 centimeters long. Its flowers are bluish, and appear in spring-summer.

eryngium campestre

Eryngium campestre is a small herb

The eryngium campestreCalled runner thistle, setero thistle or tinder thistle, it is a perennial herb native to Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Reaches a height of 70 centimetersand is strongly protected by thorns. Its flowers are blue and measure approximately 3 centimeters in diameter.

Eryngium foetidum

Eryngium are herbaceous thistles

The Eryngium foetidum It is an annual herb known by the names coriander, habanero, alcapate, or coyote cilantro. It is native to the tropical regions of America, and reaches a height of between 0 and 5 centimeters. Its leaves are lance-shaped, and are up to 30 centimeters long by up to 5 centimeters wide. Also, these are edible; in fact, you can consume them fresh without problem. The flowers are yellowish green.

Eryngium yuccifolium

The Eryngium yuccifolium is a plant with white flowers

The Eryngium yuccifolium It is a perennial herb native to America that reaches a height of 1,8 meters. Its leaves are elongated and thin, measuring up to 1 meter long by up to 3 centimeters wide. The flowers are greenish or bluish, and are grouped in umbel-shaped inflorescences, and are about 3 centimeters in diameter.

As a curiosity, you should know that the Native Americans took advantage of the roots of this plant to treat poisonous snake bites.

Clump coast

Eryngium maritimum is a soil-living herb

The Clump coast It is a perennial plant native to the coasts of Europe known as sea thistle or marine thistle. Reaches a height of 50 centimetersand its flowers are bluish or silver. In addition, the tender parts can be eaten without problems, as if they were asparagus.

flat eryngium

Eryngium planum is a bluish-flowered herb

The flat eryngium is a perennial herb native to Europe and Asia that reaches a height of 60 centimeters tall. It has basal leaves and blue flowers. It is used as a medicinal, since it is a diuretic, and stimulates the appetite.

Eryngium viviparum

Eryngium viviparum is a small herb

The Eryngium viviparum it is a perennial herb native to northwestern France and Spain. It grows between 2 and 10 centimeters in height, and lacks spines. Its leaves are between 1 and 10 centimeters long by 0,2-1 centimeters wide. It is, therefore, a small plant that produces bluish flowers.


The genus Eryngium is composed of a series of species that They are widely used in both traditional medicine and edibles. For example: the roots, leaves and young shoots are often used as a vegetable; and there are some species with medicinal properties, such as Eryngium yuccifolium and Clump coast; in fact, they are used as diuretics, laxatives, stimulants, or anti-inflammatories.

Can they be grown?

Eryngium flowers are curious

The Eryngium are herbs that, due to their characteristics, are sometimes not very popular in gardens. But, as we have seen, there are some with very curious flowers. So let’s see how we can grow them:


First of all, the first thing is to get some seeds. This will be done in spring, since it is when the weather favors its germination. Once we have them, We will sow them in seedling trays preferably, or in pots, with specific soil for seedbeds (for sale here!) or with universal culture substrate.

We will put a maximum of two seeds, ensuring that they are separated from each other, and not deeply buried. What’s more, you just have to put a very thin layer of soil so that the sun does not hit them so directly.

Then, It will only be left to water and place the seedbed outsidein a sunny place. They will germinate in about 8-15 days, depending on how fresh they are.


When the seedlings have roots sticking out of the drainage holes in the seedbed, it is time to plant them in larger pots. or, if you prefer, in the garden. In the first case, it will be filled with universal substrate (for sale here!); and in the second, we will have to find an area where it continues to be exposed to direct sunlight, and where the earth drains the water quickly.

They must be transplanted carefully, taking care not to manipulate the roots too much. Likewise, it is important that the plants fit us well, that is, neither too high nor too low with respect to the level of the soil or substrate.


Eryngium are herbs that do not require much care. If they receive direct sunlight throughout the day and the soil in which they grow is able to absorb and filter the water quickly, all we have to do is water them a couple of times a week during the hottest months of the year, and once a week the rest.

It is also interesting to pay them biweekly, adding a handful of compost or other organic fertilizer, such as cow manure or earthworm humus (on sale here!). Of course, if we have them in pots, it is preferable to use liquid fertilizers, always following the indications that we will find on the container.

What do you think of the Eryngium?

Eryngium: characteristics, species and cultivation

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