Pancratium maritimum

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Sea Daffodil, Sand Lily
Pacratium maritimum Paestum.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Amaryllidoideae
Genus: Pancratium
Species: P. maritimum
Binomial name
Pancratium maritimum
  • P. angustifolium M. Roem.
  • Hymenocallis maritima (L.) M.Roem.
  • Pancratium carolinianum L.
  • Scilla parva Garsault
  • Hymenocallis lacera Salisb.
  • Hymenocallis caroliniana (L.) Herb.
  • Hymenocallis ruizii M.Roem.
  • Pancratium aegyptiacum M.Roem.
  • Pancratium abchasicum Regel
  • Pancratium maritimum var. aureum Pynaert
  • Pancratium angustifolium Lojac. 1909, illegitimate homonym, not M.Roem. 1847
  • Pancratium barcinonense Sennen
  • Pancratium mirennae Mattei
  • Pancratium linosae Soldano & F.Conti

Pancratium maritimum, or sea daffodil, is a species of bulbous plant native to both sides of the Mediterranean region and Black Sea from Portugal, Morocco and the Canary Islands east to Turkey, Syria, Israel and the Caucasus.[1][2] It can also be seen on the south Bulgarian and north Turkish and Georgian coasts of Black Sea, where it is threatened with extinction. It is also naturalized in southern California, Bermuda and the Azores.[1][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

Pancratium maritimum grows on beaches and coastal sand dunes, often with much of the leaves and scapes buried in the sand. Other vernacular names are sand daffodil, sand lily and lily of St. Nicholas. The specific epithet maritimum means "of the sea".[17]


Pancratium maritimum is a bulbous perennial with a long neck and glaucous, broadly linear leaves, evergreen, but the leaves often die back during hot summers. Scape to 40 centimetres (16 in). Flowers 3–15 in an umbel, up to 15 cm (6 in) long, white. Corona two-thirds as long as the tepals. The flowers have a pleasing, exotic and very subtle lily scent, which only becomes apparent during still, windless summer nights that allow the delicate fragrance to become perceptible. Flowering is from August to October.[2]

Group of flowers on the Sardinian coast


4'-Hydroxy-5,7-dimethoxy-8-methylflavan is a flavan found in P. maritimum.[18]


Pancratium maritimum is pollinated by a hawk-moth named Agrius convolvuli. These insects visit the flower only when the speed of the wind is under 2 metres per second (6.6 ft/s). Even if the species is pollinated in an artificial way during windy weather the pollination is not effective. Pancratium maritimum is not receptive to its own pollen and must be cross-pollinated.


Easily grown but requires a very sunny position and a very well drained, sandy soil. Needs hot summers to induce flowering and is often a shy bloomer in cooler climates. Hardy to USDA zone 8. Tolerates temperatures down to about −5 °C (23 °F). Propagation by seeds or division after flowering. Seedlings may flower in their third or fourth year.[19][20]


The Hebrew name for the flower is חבצלת החוף (khavatselet ha-Khof), closely related to the rose of Sharon (khavatselet ha-Sharonחבצלת השרון) mentioned in the Song of Solomon. Since the plant grows on the Sharon plain of the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, it is suggested the biblical passage may refer to this flower.[21]


  1. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ a b Altervista Flora Italiana, Giglio marino comune, Pancratium maritimum
  3. ^ Britton, N. (1918). Flora of Bermuda: 1-585. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
  4. ^ Maire, R. (1960). Flore de l'Afrique du Nord 6: 1-397. Paul Lechevalier, Paris.
  5. ^ Jafri, S.M.H. & El-Gadi, A. (eds.) (1978). Flora of Libya 51: 1-10. Al-Faateh University, Tripoli.
  6. ^ Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1980). Flora Europaea 5: 1-452. Cambridge University Press.
  7. ^ Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1984). Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands 8: 1-632. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
  8. ^ Meikle, R.D. (1985). Flora of Cyprus 2: 833-1970. The Bentham-Moxon Trust Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  9. ^ Hansen, A. & Sunding, P. (1985). Flora of Macaronesia. Checklist of vascular plants. 3. revised edition. Sommerfeltia 1: 5-103.
  10. ^ Czerepanov, S.K. (1995). Vascular Plants of Russia and Adjacent States (The Former USSR): 1-516. Cambridge University Press.
  11. ^ Boulos, L. (1995). Flora of Egypt Checklist: i-xii, 1-287. Al Hadara Publishing, Cairo.
  12. ^ Danin, A. (2004). Distribution Atlas of Plants in the Flora Palaestina area: 1-517. The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem.
  13. ^ Boulos, L. (2005). Flora of Egypt 4: 1-617. Al Hadara Publishing, Cairo.
  14. ^ Zervous, S., Raus, T. & Yannitsaros, A. (2009). Additions to the flora of the island of Kalimnos (SE Aegean, Greece). Willdenowia 39: 165-177.
  15. ^ Dobignard, D. & Chatelain, C. (2010). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 1: 1-455. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
  16. ^ US Department of Agriculture Plant profile
  17. ^ Jaeger, Edmund Carroll (1959). A source-book of biological names and terms. Springfield, Ill: Thomas. ISBN 0-398-06179-3. 
  18. ^ A. A. Ali, M. A. Makboul, A. A. Attia & D. T. Ali (1990). "Chromones and flavans from Pancratium maritimum". Phytochemistry 29 (2): 625–627. doi:10.1016/0031-9422(90)85130-8. 
  19. ^ Plants for a Future, sea daffodil, Pancratium maritimum
  20. ^ Dave's Garden, PlantFiles: Sea Daffodil, Sand Lily, Northern Marsh Orchid Pancratium maritimum/
  21. ^ Coastal Lily at (Hebrew)

General references[edit]

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