a genus of plants of the family Umbelliferae. The plants are perennial or, less frequently, biennial and annual grasses. The entire or pinnatisect leaves are often leathery and have spiny margins. The small flowers, which usually range in color from light to dark blue, are in heads that are often surrounded by an involucre of prickly leaves. The fruits are covered with scales.
There are about 230 species, distributed in tropical, subtropical, and temperate belts (mainly in Mexico and South America). Approximately 15 species are found in the USSR, predominantly in the southern regions. E. planum grows in the central and southern regions of the European USSR, in the Caucasus, in Western Siberia, and in Middle Asia. It is found in the steppes, on steppe slopes, in dry meadows, and in sandy regions. The grassy part of the plant contains saponins and volatile oils and is used as an expectorant. E. campestre, a taproot weed, grows in the European USSR and in the Caucasus. A prickly, strongly branching plant, it forms tumbleweed. Many species of Eryngium are grown as ornamentals outdoors and in greenhouses.