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Overview

Brief Summary

Rock samphire grows well on stony beaches, in crevices on dikes and cracks of cliff walls. It is a true coastal plant, preferring sunny open areas that are (moderately) rich in nutrients, brackish and wet. It can also grow in the dunes, but then in sand that is somewhat salty. The only place you will find rock samphire in the Netherlands is in Zeeland and in the wadden region, but even there it is rare. Rock samphire remains a lovely plant even after flowering, thanks to the reddish discoloration of the stems, leaves and seeds.
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Distribution

Distribution in Egypt

Mediterranean region.

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Global Distribution

Macaronesia, Atlantic Europe, Mediterranean region, Black Sea coasts.

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Ecology

Habitat

Rocky maritime cliffs.

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Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Hypera pollux grazes on leaf of Crithmum maritimum

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Perennial.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Crithmum maritimum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Crithmum maritimum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Wikipedia

Crithmum


C. maritimum
C. maritimum (habitat)

Samphire,[1] rock samphire,[1] or sea fennel,[1] Crithmum maritimum, is an edible wild plant, and the sole species of the genus Crithmum. It is found on southern and western coasts of Britain and Ireland, on mediterranean and western coasts of Europe including the Canary Islands, North Africa and the Black Sea. "Samphire" is a name also used for several other unrelated species of coastal plant.

History, trade and cultivation[edit]

In the 17th century, Shakespeare referred to the dangerous practice of collecting rock samphire from cliffs. "Half-way down, Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!"[2] In the 19th century, samphire was being shipped in casks of seawater from the Isle of Wight to market in London at the end of May each year.[3] Rock samphire used to be cried in London streets as "Crest Marine".[4]

In England, rock samphire was cultivated in gardens,[5] where it grows readily in a light, rich soil. Obtaining seed commercially is now difficult, and in the United Kingdom the removal of wild plants is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The reclaimed piece of land adjoining Dover, called Samphire Hoe, is named after rock samphire. The land was created from spoil from the Channel Tunnel, and rock samphire used to be harvested from the neighbouring cliffs.

Culinary use[edit]

Rock samphire has fleshy, divided aromatic leaves that Culpeper described as having a "pleasant, hot and spicy taste"[6]

The stems, leaves and seed pods may be pickled in hot, salted, spiced vinegar, or the leaves used fresh in salads.

Richard Mabey gives several recipes for samphire,[7] although it is possible that at least one of these may refer to marsh samphire or glasswort (Salicornia europaea), a very common confusion.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "USDA GRIN Taxonomy". Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Shakespeare, William (1623). The Tragedy of King Lear. London.  Act IV, scene VI, lines 14b-15
  3. ^ Grigson, Geoffrey (1958). The Englishman's Flora. London: The Readers' Union, Phoenix House. 
  4. ^ Phillips, Roger (1983). Wild Food. Pan. ISBN 0-330-28069-4. 
  5. ^ Phillips, Roger (1983). Wild Food. Pan. ISBN 0-330-28069-4. 
  6. ^ Culpeper, Nicholas (1653). The Complete Herbal. London. 
  7. ^ Mabey, Richard (1975). Food For Free. Fontana. ISBN 0-00-613470-X. 
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