The plant Urginea maritima (syn. Scilla maritima, Urginea scilla, or Drimia maritima) has the common names red squill, sea squill, sea onion, ein sit, and ada sogani. The name red squill may be reserved for a variety of the plant which has red-tinted flowers instead of the more common white. It may be placed in family Hyacinthaceae with squills of genus Scilla or included in family Liliaceae, depending on which classification system is used.
Sea squill is a bulb which sends up large dull green leaves followed by inflorescences of small white flowers. The bulb can get quite large, reaching over five pounds in weight. It grows in coastal regions in sandy soil.
This squill is native to the Mediterranean but it is widely cultivated. It has been used for medicinal purposes. The bulb contains cardiac glycosides which stimulate the heart and act as diuretics in moderate doses, and are emetic and poisonous in larger doses. The juice of the bulb causes blisters when put in contact with skin. The plant has been used as a rodenticide and may show promise as an insecticide. The most active compounds in the plant are scillirosides, especially proscillaridine A.
In Israel the sea squill (חצב) has gained an almost iconic status, and is popularly known as the "harbinger of autumn", due to the fact that the flowers pop out all over the country at the end of the dry summer, some time before the first rain.
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