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How to Grow and Care for a Rock Samphire (Crithmum maritimum)


Crithmum maritimum, commonly known as Rock Samphire or Sea Fennel, is a prized edible coastal plant that can be found around the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and along the Atlantic coast from the Canary Islands to northern France. The plant also grows along the west and south coast of Britain and Ireland. Its preferred habitat is rock crevices, cliffs, rocky shores, and sometimes along shingle beaches.

Rock samphire is the only species in the genus and belongs to the Carrot or Parsley family (Apiaceae). It is a perennial, succulent plant that reaches up to 1 foot (30 cm) in height.

The above-ground parts of the plant are used as food and herbal medicine. In spring, the young leaves and flowers can be collected from plants in good growth and used in salads or as vegetables. The taste is loved by some and loathed by others. It is rarely used in today's herbal medicine, but some herbalists still use it for medicinal purposes and recommend it for a variety of ailments.

Growing Conditions and General Care

Growing Rock Samphire in the garden is very easy. Although it is used to salty coastal soil, it will do well in any well-draining soil and has been cultivated in gardens in England for centuries.

Sow seeds indoors a few weeks before the average last frost. Transplant the seedlings outside after all chance of frost has passed.

Rock Samphire can tolerate some shade, but it will perform best in full sun. It is a good idea to dig a large hole and fill the bottom of it with gravel to make drainage easier. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

Harvest young leaves and stems throughout spring and summer by handpicking or cutting with scissors, similar to the harvesting of most common herb plants.



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