Herb: Sea Squill

Latin name: Urginea maritima

Synonyms: Drimia maritima, Urginea scilla

Family: Hyacinthaceae

Medicinal use of Sea Squill:

Sea squill contains cardiac glycosides which are strongly diuretic and relatively quick-acting. They do not have the same cumulative effect as those present in foxglove (Digitalis spp.). The bulb has been widely used by herbalists, mainly for its effect upon the heart and for its stimulating, expectorant and diuretic properties. 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. This is a very poisonous plant and it should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. The dried bulb is cardiotonic, strongly diuretic, emetic when taken in large doses and expectorant. The bulb can weigh up to 2 kilos. It is used internally in the treatment of bronchitis, bronchitic asthma, whooping cough and oedema and is a potential substitute for foxglove in aiding a failing heart. The bulb is harvested in the autumn, sliced transversally and dried for later use. Externally, the bulb has been used in the treatment of dandruff and seborrhoea.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

to October

Habitat of the herb:

Dry sandy places, especially near the coast.

Other uses of Sea Squill:

The red bulb form of this species contains the poisonous substance "scilliroside". This substance is poisonous to rodents but does not kill other species (which vomit instead).

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. 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. 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.

Cultivation of Sea Squill:

Dry sandy places, especially near the coast.

Known hazards of Urginea maritima:

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

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.