Thrift: coastal jewels

Thrift 3Thrift (Armeria maritima), otherwise known as Sea Pink, is perhaps not the rarest of our coastal wild flowers, but it is certainly one of the prettiest.

Forming compact cushions of dark green, needle-like leaves, it likes nothing better than hanging onto clifftops and boulders overlooking the sea.  It can also be found in salt marshes and in mountain areas, where it tolerates the poor soil and harsh weather.

Thrift 1Flower stalks carrying heads of tightly-packed pink flowers appear throughout the spring and summer, from April onwards;  they tend to fade in colour as they mature.  There are also white varieties, which are uncommon.   The flowers are fragrant, and they’re often alive with insects in search of nectar and pollen.

The Welsh name for thrift is ‘clustog Fair’ (‘Mary’s pillow’), while in Gaelic it is called ‘tonna chladaich’, which means ‘beach wave’.  It’s the county flower of Pembrokeshire, Bute and the Isles of Scilly.

Thrift 2


These photos were taken on Iona;  copyright © Colin Woolf


  1. This is a lovely series of photos. I have never heard of this plant but I will certainly look for it in my travels. It’s beautiful!

  2. Looking at these beautiful photos makes me think very much of summer holidays by the seaside. I think they’re one of my favourite flowers, largely due to happy memories from childhood. The colours in that first shot are just wonderful, I keep going back to it and I can’t help smiling because it makes me feel so happy. 🙂

    • Thanks, Lorna. I love those photos too! I usually have a pic of Iona on my desktop when the weather is awful outside, just to remind me that the summer will come sometime!

  3. I was taken away with the close up picture of the plant. It definitely teaches me to always get a closer look to fully enjoy the beauty of nature.

  4. It’s good to see your thrift thrive. When I think of a person who’s thrifty I think of someone who holds things in and doesn’t spend much, but an older sense of the word thrifty was ‘thriving, prospering,’ and that’s what your pictures show these plants doing. I like the way the pink of the flowers harmonizes with the yellow of what seems to be lichen.

    • Thank you! Yes, in fact a thrift was once pictured on the back of one of our coins – a threepenny bit, I think. A play on words, in the sense that if you look after the pennies, the pounds will take care of themselves!

  5. Beautiful photos and a great article 🙂 The thrift and other plants like oxeye daisy, sea campion and sheeps bit are putting on a lovely show down here in Pembrokeshire this year, although I must say I didn’t know that thrift was the county flower even though I’ve lived and worked here for years, so I’ve learned my new thing for today thanks 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Mike, and thanks for following The Hazel Tree! The thrift is amazing up here in Scotland as well – we saw some brilliant flowers down in Kintyre the other day. I’m always learning new things too, by writing these features! 🙂 Pembrokeshire is a county I haven’t visited much at all, but I have heard that it is beautiful. We used to live in Snowdonia and I wish we had taken more trips down there when it was closer.

      • It’s my pleasure Jo, I very much like your blog. Snowdonia is wonderful too, as is Scotland – the fantastic nature of those places comes through very clearly in your writing and photos and I’m looking forward to reading and seeing more. All the best 🙂

      • That’s very kind of you to say so! Thank you! 🙂

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