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Thrifts are a gardener’s favourite and familiar sight on the coastal cliffs of Britain and Ireland.
Come spring and summer, they host a spectacular floral show — wands of pink, globe-shaped blooms dance above cushions of fine leaves.
Thrift is an evergreen herb with compact cushions of needle-like leaves and long stems bearing spherical, pink flowers. Its flowers can be purple, white or red.
Thrift is a popular garden and cut flower. It flourishes in rock gardens and landscapes designed to conserve water in dry regions (xeriscapes).
In the Orkney islands and Outer Hebrides, thrift was used in traditional medicines. It was boiled with milk and used as a remedy for tuberculosis. It was also drunk as a cure for hangovers.
Did you know?
Thrift is known as tonna chladaich in Gaelic which means beach wave. In Welsh, it is called clustog fair, meaning Mary's pillow.
Thrift was used as an emblem on the old 12-sided threepenny coin as a reminder of the importance of spending money wisely during the wars.
Where in the world?
In coastal areas on maritime cliffs, salt marshes and coastal pastures, thriving in dry, sandy, and saline conditions.
Find it in our gardens
A botanic garden in southwest London with the world’s most diverse living plant collection.
LocationView map of Kew Gardens
Best time to see
Thrift is a common species in the UK, but the subspecies, tall thrift (Armeria maritima subsp. elongata), is critically endangered due to agricultural activities such as ploughing and re-seeding.
Four collections of thrift are conserved in our Millennium Seed Bank from the east and west coasts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Our seed bank also houses seed collections from the last two populations in Britain of the tall thrift so that they are conserved and available for potential reintroductions in the future.