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History of Eryngium Maritimum
From 1600 to the late 1860's, candied roots of Sea Holly were flavoured with sugar and orange flower water and sold in Britain, particularly on the east coast where they grew in abundance. They were sold as a magic confection, reputed to have aphrodisiac powers, to cure impotence, and to keep husbands from straying, as the verse at the beginning of this article reveals. Geoffrey Grigson in his book The Englishman’s Flora, notes how Shakespeare's Falstaff mentions Eryngoes in The Merry Wives Of Windsor Act V Scene V, when he meets Mistress Ford in Windsor Forest. This leaves us in no doubt as to the reputation of this plant:
Mistress Ford: Sir John! Art thou there, my deer, my male deer?
Falstaff: My doe with the black scut! Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of 'Green Sleeves', hail kissing-comfits and snow eringoes; let there come a tempest of provocation.