information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Thrift (Armeria maritima)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.



A perennial flower with a corolla consisting of five petals that are joined at the base with five stamens and five separate styles. The leaves form rosettes at the base of the stalk and the fruit capsule contains only a single seed. The leaves of Armeria maritima are narrow and numerous, and usually have hairs along their margins. The leaves surround a stalk that rises, unbranched terminating in a dense inflorescence of usually pink flowers. Often seen, and easy to identify in the absence of flowers. The rootstock is woody and easily seen under the leaves.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Armeria maritima occurs all around the British Isles and Ireland. The subspecies Armeria maritima ssp. elongata is found in Lincolnshire but is very rare.

Global distribution

Armeria maritima is found throughout Europe.


Armeria maritima is found on coasts, cliffs and salt marshes as well as inland on mountain ledges in Britain and Ireland.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Armeria maritima usually has pink flowers although they are infrequently white.
  • The flower consists of five petals, about 8mm wide with stamens opposite the petals and five styles that are hairy towards their base.
  • The hairy calyx (the whorl of 'sepals' which occur outside the petals), has five ribs and teeth up to 1mm deep.
  • A brown, tubular sheath falls 2-3cm below the flower head.
  • The flower stalk is unbranched and between 5-30cm high, emerging from a rosette of 2-10cm long leaves.
  • The leaves have a single vein, may have hair along the margins and originate from a cushion-forming, woody rootstock.

Additional information

Armeria maritima includes two sub species, Armeria maritima ssp. elongata and Armeria maritima ssp. maritima. These subspecies are synonymous with Statice elongata or Armeria elongata, and Armeria pubescens or Armeria maritima ssp. planifolia respectively. The subspecies can be differentiated by the form of the stems, pubescent (with hairs) or glabrous (hairless) respectively.

Listed by

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Further information sources

Search on:


  1. Cronquist, A., 1988. The evolution and classification of flowering plants (2nd edn). New York: New York Botanical Garden.

  2. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017

  3. Rodwell, J.S. (ed.), 2000. British plant communities, vol. 5, Maritime communities and vegetation of open habitats. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  4. Rose, F., 1981. The wild flower key. British Isles - N.W. Europe with keys to plants not in flower. London: The Penguin Group.

  5. Stace, C., 1999. Field flora of the British Isles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


This review can be cited as:

Hughes, J.R. 2002. Armeria maritima Thrift. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 23-09-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 01/08/2002