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Salicornia europaea (Common Glasswort)

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Scientific Name

Salicornia europaea L.

Common Names

Glasswort, Common Glasswort, Marsh Samphire, Chicken Claws, Sea Asparagus, Sea Pickle

Synonyms

Salicornia europaea var. herbacea, Salicornia herbacea, Salicornia virginica

Scientific Classification

Family: Amaranthaceae
Subfamily: Salicornioideae
Tribe: Salicornieae
Genus: Salicornia

Description

Salicornia europaea is an annual succulent, up to 16 inches (40 cm) tall, with much-branched and fleshy stems. The leaves are the part that you see. These are like tubes surrounding the stem and extend from one stem-joint to the next. It is in flower in late summer, and the seeds ripen in fall. The flowers are tiny and hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs).

Hardiness

It is grown as an annual plant, so it has no USDA hardiness zone.

How to Grow and Care

Glasswort prefers fertile organic soil with ample nitrogen and regular watering. This species is little if at all, cultivated, and its exact requirements are not clearly understood. It is not known if the plant will require periodic inundation by salty water to grow well.

This plant is difficult to grow in cultivation. It can succeed in gardens if sown as soon as the seed is ripe in the fall in well-drained soil—a very variable plant both in size and the number of branches produced. Several subspecies are recognized. The best forms for food production are bushy plants up to 16 inches (40 cm) tall with an upright habit that keeps the branches out of the mud.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Glasswort.

Uses

Once described as the poor man's Asparagus, this is now fast becoming a trendy garnish in many of the gourmet restaurants. That said, this is a fantastic vegetable in its own right or can be made into a wonderful pickled vegetable.

Learn more at Sea Asparagus: A Brilliant Little Green Miracle.

Origin

Salicornia europaea is native to the coasts of western Europe, including Britain.

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