It is midsummer now and most of the vegetation has dried up and there are not many flowers to be seen blooming in the blazing afternoon heat. Except the Sea hollies, which are all in flower, in the salt marshes, estuaries and along the edges of the mangrove forests.
Belonging to the prickly ‘Acanthaecea’ family, the Sea Holly ( Acanthus ilicifolius) gets it’s name from it’s dark green, leathery and spiny leaves, that closely resemble those of the European holly. The plant, a hardy shrub, does well in salty mud flats, where it forms an essential part of the ecosystems, holding together the soft muddy banks and providing hideouts for a variety of crabs, snails, worms and insects.
The flowers bloom in masses in summer , but because of their terrible spiny leaves and stalks are not collected commercially or otherwise. Some traditional herbalists do use the plants for some medicinal purposes, but such people are becoming scarcer by the day.For now, they are a delight for the casual wayfarer who has ventured out into the blazing mid day sun.