This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
The pretty tufted Thrift is found in the Northern Temperate and Arctic Zones in Arctic Europe, Asia, N. America, and also in Chili. While thus a northern plant it has not been found to belong to any of the ancient deposits so far. It occurs on all the coasts of Great Britain, except those of estuaries in Middlesex and Lanark, and in the Highlands at the height of 3800 ft.
Thrift is a typical maritime species, which is perhaps more common on the west than the east coast, preferring rocks and stony shores to sandy or muddy districts. It is also to be found in Scotland at high elevations or mountain heights inland, where the same moist humid conditions exist that are prevalent at the seaside, so that it cannot strictly be regarded as always a salt-lover.
As with Sea Lavender the flowering stalks of Thrift are the only aerial stems, and are scapes. The leaves are all radical, linear lance-shaped, flat, blunt, and fringed with hairs at the margin, with one vein, and fleshy. The plant has a tufted habit.
The flowers are reddish-pink, and are borne on the scapes, which are downy and rounded. The outer calyx, or involucral whorl of leaflike organs of brownish, membranous bracts, is very characteristic, bracts coming also between the flowers. The hairs on the scape are spreading or turned back. The calyx has 5 downy ribs with acute segments, and the tube is hairy.
The plant is about 6 in. in height. It is in flower from May till July. It is a deciduous, herbaceous plant, increased by division.
The flowers are scented. The calyx is 5 mm. in length, and is violet above, strengthened by 5 shortly-toothed ribs. Hairs line the tube and so protect the honey. The anthers are above the latter, and in the centre are the 5 stigmas, which take the place of the former, moving- to the margin, and the anthers become central. The stigmas make a spiral turn, and so touch the anthers.
The flower is conspicuous, more so than Limonium, to which otherwise it has some affinity. As the anthers open, the anther-stalks curve inwards, bringing the anthers immediately above the depressed centre of the stigma, on which they shed their pollen; the flower is thus normally self-pollinated.
The achenes are provided with a parachute-like wing, a persistent membranous calyx, to aid in wind dispersal.
This plant is a salt-lover requiring a saline soil, but it is also a rock plant, growing on Cambrian and Silurian and other rocks, and is also a sand-loving plant growing on a sand soil.