How to recognise thrift on the coast

Have you seen a pink flower coming into bloom in the spring across the South West coast? Chances are it's thrift.

Which conditions are right for thrift? 

Thrift and its dense bobbing heads of pink flowers can be found in our coastal grasslands. It's one of the plants that benefits from the conservation management we undertake, not ploughing or adding chemicals to the land, but ensuring that it is lightly grazed to keep scrub (which would overwhelm these small plants) at bay.

Thrift grows happily on cliffs and seashores and can be found right round the South West coast. Thrift is very tolerant of poor soils, exposed places and salty conditions which make it a perfect coastal plant. It's able to grow on the most exposed cliff tops and pebbly beaches and salt marshes. Thrift is a great nectar plant which makes it particularly attractive to butterflies and moths.


How does the National Trust support thrift growth?

Many hectares of species rich coastal grassland which include wildflowers like thrift have been lost to agricultural intensification. Two example are ploughing and the addition of artificial fertilisers and chemical weed control around the SW Coast since the Second World War. National Trust ownership and management has helped to ensure that this pretty flower remains a common site around our coast.


How can we recognise thrift?

Thrift is an easily recognised wildflower. Its leaves form dense short, compact clumps which send out lots of flower stems up to a foot high topped by compact bright pink flower heads. Sometimes called the 'Sea Pink' or 'Cliff Rose'. It has been widely cultivated as a garden plant since the middle ages and makes a popular cut flower. Look for it in particularly rocky coastal places (sometimes in stone walls and hedge banks) and in short grass pasture.