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Eryngium Species, Miss Willmott's Ghost, Giant Sea Holly

Eryngium giganteum

Family: Apiaceae (ay-pee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Eryngium (er-RIN-jee-um) (Info)
Species: giganteum (jy-GAN-tee-um) (Info)
Synonym:Eryngium asperifolium
Synonym:Eryngium haussknechtii



Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Dark Blue


Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

Flowers are good for drying and preserving

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, British Columbia

Merced, California

San Leandro, California

Dover, Delaware

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania

Ogden, Utah

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 17, 2016, lundstrb from Minneapolis, MN wrote:

I purchased a packet of seeds at Great Dixter in 2013. Out of that packet, only three seeds germinated, and that took a long time. I managed to keep two plants alive and one of these bloomed this summer. One 2 1/2 foot stalk with 29 blooms. It is now mid-August and the stalk is yellowing and dying. The rosette of leaves has disappeared, so I'm assuming the plant is indeed biennial. The other plant looks very healthy and will hopefully bloom next year. I'm hoping for lots of self-seeding because the blooms looked very beautiful and exotic in my Zone 4 garden, nobody else in my Minneapolis neighborhood has them and I'm very proud to have grown them from seed.


On Jul 4, 2013, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Beautiful and subtle. Most sea hollies have conspicuous spiny blue bracts, but this ones' are green and silver. So far my plants have been under two feet tall.

Biennial, but mine have self-sown as advertised. Eryngium seed are notoriously ephemeral, so most purchased seed is hard to germinate. I started with a purchased plant. I've allowed two seedlings to live, and the first to reach bloom is a little over a foot high. Perhaps it will be taller under more favorable conditions---it only gets a few hours of direct sun. Or perhaps it is a seed strain bred for compactness.

If you're wondering how it got its common name, Ellen Wilmott (1858-1934) was an influential and famously eccentric English horticulturist who exhausted her substantial inheritance on her garde... read more


On Oct 9, 2010, lehua_mc from Portland, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Impatiently, I tried to start seeds of this Sea Holly outside in spring, even though all sources, including Botanical Interests, couldn't ensure results. Then we had a very wet spring, and cool summer, and not a ghost of a seedling. These are popular in the area, so, now that it is fall, I shall try my hand at it again.


On Jun 29, 2006, hortensia from Langley, BC, BC (Zone 8b) wrote:

thank goodness there are lots of gardening styles!!! I love all eryngia and this biennial form is a favourite. Its true it sows itself around, but that just means it puts itself in some places I wouldn't have thought of. A fabulous dried plant and an essential in a silver border!


On Jun 6, 2005, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

I think Eryngiums this one included are HIGHLY overrated. I don't think they look like much. Maybe its compared to the lushness of flower and the like in NJ but Eryngium here just looks sort of bare and odd and not all that showy. They get alot of attention these days and alot of raves reviews but I still believe they're an acquired (and I've acquired a taste for other things but not this) taste. Don't be surprised if you plant them and are dissapointed.


On May 3, 2005, ladyannne from Merced, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

One of the most unusual plants. I sold eight babies at a flea market within an hour. I can't WAIT to see it bloom.