The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

Does your Sea Holly stink?


By Kizibu

Sussex, United Kingdom Gb

We have this grogeous sea-holly next to our patio. The picture hardly does credit to the faboulous blue coloured stems and fowers. But it smells awful - so awful we can't eat on our patio any longer. The semll frankly is like faeces. For a long time we blamed the foxes and cats that creep into our garden, crap and creep out again but have finally concluded its the Eryngium itself that pongs. I can't find any refrence to this on any website or gardening book (it used to be used as an aphrodisiac!)

What variety is this I wonder and should we try another more mellifluous kind? Peeeeuu.

On plant Eryngium




??? Mine doesn't smell??? very puzzling.

27 Jul, 2008


Nor mine?????

28 Jul, 2008


Thanks Spritzhenry and Jacque for your replies. I'm quite amazed by the smell which is definitely from the Eryngium. Yet other sources say it is sweet smelling ands that the root was once eaten candied as a sweetmeat and is supposed to help the elderly to regain their sexual vigour! The only other mention of smelly sea holly I can find anywhere is here:

Maybe some do and some don't. Does anyone recognise the variety from the picture? I think its probably Eryngium Planar though the smelly one mentioned above seems to have been E. Alpinum.


28 Jul, 2008


I know this might be a bit of an old thread but I had to reply to agree. I just realised that our Sea Holly Little Hobbit absolutely stinks as you described and was searching the internet when I came across your post. Absolutely disgusting.

25 Jul, 2014


Mine looks just like yours. And it to smell revolting I brought mine from seed and was so looking forwards to seeing it flower. I even gave my aunty and uncle and my mum and dad some for there gardens. The bees and butterfly's love it. But it the most disgusting smelling plant ive ever smelt.

29 Jul, 2014


Hi from Canada. The trick is to not let its flowers open--they indeed smell like cat poo. If you cut and dry it when bright blue but before flowers open, it does not smell.

4 Aug, 2014


Yes - I'm growing Blue Sea Holly for the first time, by my front apt door in a large pot. It took me awhile to figure out that there was no dog turd anywhere around my front door - I must have been on that "doggy-doo hunt" for at least 2 weeks before I finally figured out the real culprit !!

19 Jun, 2018


This has been a gratifying thread to read. For weeks, my husband has been blaming the cats, and then the chickens, for the pooey smell pervading our garden. We have been growing blue sea holly from seed for the past several years, and transplanting them into the ground. This year, we have about a dozen around the garden, and we might as well be farming poo given how it smells. Also, unlike other years, we have noticed a ton of fly-like insects clustering all over the plants, perhaps attracted by the pungent odor. But anyway, the plants do look pretty.

15 Jul, 2020


Finally someone else finds this out I noticed it immediately I got it home from the garden centre so bad In fact was the stench I phoned the nursery to ask what compost they used for their seedlings in case it was uncomposted manure next I read the literature from RHS no mention of the poo stink it is just like cat shit! Another plant that shares this stench is the stone crop or sedum red dragon along with some of the same family truly appalling stench which can travel over 30 feet on a warm evening AVOID!

Thanks to all in this thread!

25 Jul, 2021


Has anyone tried rinsing the pollen off of the flowers to get rid of the stink? I read that florists do.
I’m laughing because my blooms stink and just figured out today where the awful smell was coming from.

23 May, 2022


Howdy from Fort Worth Texas! Boy did I ever make a mistake when I planted Sea Holly! It’s an unusual and beautiful pollinator but dang it stinks! So glad I found this thread….I too searched for dog poo, over and over. Then it hit me - could it be the Sea Holly? I had already cut some and put them in a vase, intending to bring them in the house. Stuck my nose in them and yuck! Now to decide do I keep them or dig them up and move them to the back of my property. So glad I found this very old discussion thread!

19 May, 2023

How do I say thanks?

Answer question

Related photos

  • Eryngium giganteum  (Eryngium giganteum (Miss Willmott's ghost))
  • Comma and Eryngium (Eryngium)
  • Eryngium 'Cobalt Star' (Eryngium (Eryngium))
  • Eryngium planum (Eryngium planum (Sea Holly))

Related products


Related questions

Not found an answer?