Information on Oysterplant

Common Name: Oysterplant
Scientific Name: Mertensia maritima
Irish Name: Lus na sceallaĆ­
Family Group: Boraginaceae.
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Oysterplant is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

This is one of our island’s rarest species. Listed as 'Vulnerable', it is only occasionally found on shingle or sandy beaches on the northern coast, its seed being dispersed by the sea. It is absolutely beautiful with grey-green, smooth, slightly succulent, fleshy foliage. It spreads on pinkish-purplish stems, with hairless, oval leaves. It has incredible flowers – pink when in bud, changing to a heavenly blue when they  bloom. They are tubular with 5 lobes and 5 pointed sepals.  It is a native perennial which flowers from June to August, almost prostrate as it forms mats on the shingle. It got its common name as its leaves are said to taste of oysters. It belongs to the Borage family. 

With the help of a ‘Facebook friend’ – she knows who she is – I got to see this amazing species at the end of June 2015 in County Donegal. Thank you so much. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

This species is protected under the Flora (Protection) Order, 2015 and is classed as VULNERABLE in the Red Data List of Vascular Plants 2016. 

This species is also found in parts of the Shetland islands, Greenland, Svalsbard (formerly Spitzbergen) and Canada. With climate change warming up the waters of the British Isles, perhaps it is only a matter of time before it leaves our shores completely.