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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 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.
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.
In coastal areas on maritime cliffs, salt marshes and coastal pastures, thriving in dry, sandy, and saline conditions.
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.
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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.