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Toxic parts

The bulb is poisonous in large doses[1][2]. The red form especially has a fairly specific action on rats[1][3][4]. The fresh bulb contains an acrid juice that can cause skin blisters[1].

Edible uses

There are no edible uses listed for Urginea maritima.

Material uses

The red bulb form of this species contains the poisonous substance 'scilliroside'[5]. This substance is poisonous to rodents but does not kill other species (which vomit instead)[5].
There are no material uses listed for Urginea maritima.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Sea squill contains cardiac glycosides which are strongly diuretic and relatively quick-acting[6]. They do not have the same cumulative effect as those present in foxglove (Digitalis spp.)[6]. The bulb has been widely used by herbalists, mainly for its effect upon the heart and for its stimulating, expectorant and diuretic properties[1]. 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[1]. This is a very poisonous plant and it should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[5].

The dried bulb is cardiotonic, strongly diuretic, emetic when taken in large doses and expectorant[1][7][3][8][9][10][4][6]. The bulb can weigh up to 2 kilos[1]. It is used internally in the treatment of bronchitis, bronchitic asthma, whooping cough and oedema[5] and is a potential substitute for foxglove in aiding a failing heart[6]. The bulb is harvested in the autumn, sliced transversally and dried for later use[5].

Externally, the bulb has been used in the treatment of dandruff and seborrhoea[5].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse[11]. 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[11][5]. 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.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Urginea maritima. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in ordinary garden soil according to one report[12], whilst another says that it requires a very free draining gritty or sandy soil in full sun[13]. The bulbs have a summer resting period and should be kept dry at this time[11]. Some protection from winter wet is strongly recommended[13]. Easily grown in a warm sunny position[14].

A very ornamental plant, it is not very hardy in Britain according to one report[12], whilst another says that it can be grown in N. European gardens[13] though it does not flower very freely there[14][13]. Another report says that the plant can tolerate temperatures down to about -7°c[5]. The bulb should be only partially buried[13]. This species is cultivated in the Mediterranean area for its use in the drug industry[5]. The bulbs are harvested after 6 years growth with a yield of about 25,000 bulbs per hectare[5]. 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[1]. Only the red form contains the rat poison 'scilliroside', though both forms can be used medicinally[5]. 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[1].

A good bee plant[9].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Urginea maritima. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Urginea maritima.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Urginea maritima
Imported References
Edible uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Strong wind
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type


  1. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  2. ? Stary. F. Poisonous Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-35666-3 (1983-00-00)
  3. ? Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
  4. ? Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
  5. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  6. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
  7. ? 7.07.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  8. ? 8.08.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
  9. ? Polunin. O. and Huxley. A. Flowers of the Mediterranean. Hogarth Press ISBN 0-7012-0784-1 (1987-00-00)
  10. ? 10.010.1 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
  11. ? Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
  12. ? 12.012.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  13. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  14. ? 14.014.1 Phillips. R. and Rix. M. Bulbs Pan Books ISBN 0-330-30253-1 (1989-00-00)
  15. ? ? Flora Europaea Cambridge University Press (1964-00-00)

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