Rock Samphire (Crithmum maritimum) Identification

Rock Samphire / Spring / Summer / Autumn / Edible

How to Identify Rock Samphire


Common Names

Samphire, Stone Samphire, Rock Samphire, Sea Fennel


Botanical Name

Crithmum maritimum


Could be confused with

None, however, it is in the Umbelifer family so be sure to double-check identification


Range and Distribution

Coastal areas of Europe, from the Mediterranean to the UK


Habitat

Rocky Cliffs and Rocky edges.


Physical Characteristics of Rock Samphire

Rock Samphire is a fleshy perennial growing to 30cm tall and wide.


Leaves

The leaves grow off the short stalks and are pinnately branches with succulent lobes. They look a little like sprawling antlers.


Flowers

The flowers are typically 2mm, yellow to green and grow in standard umbels from 4-6cm. They’re quite substantial in weight for their size.

Where the set of flowers connect to the stem, there is a set of leaves, that are a thinly spear head shaped, coming out all around the stem.


Seeds

Everywhere there was a bud of flowers you will find a pod of seeds growing. Rugby ball shaped


Edible Use

Rock Samphire has a truly bold flavour and a little goes a long way with this one. The flavour has been described, in it’s most crude, as somewhere between carrot tops and petrol, however I prefer to describe it as somewhere between carrots, parsnips and fennel. 

If you want to eat a good volume of this, as a main or side dish, then boil it in 3 to 4 changes of water and add butter and lemon juice.

Or, in my opinion, it’s best to think of this plant as a strong flavouring herb, similar to dill & fennel. I love using it in potato salad or coleslaw or dicing it finely and stirring through oil to make a vinaigrette, it works really well as an accompaniment to fish – specifically mackerel.

Leaves: steamed, boiled, pickled, salted

Flower: raw for strong flavour

Seeds: best pickled or salted


Herbal

Diuretic, helping to aid digestion, said to help aid weight loss if eaten raw (possibly because the flavours are so pungent it may make you stop eating)


Tips and Observations
Be careful when picking this plant and make sure to keep an eye on your surroundings, it’s fairly easy to pick away before you realise there’s a 100ft drop right next to you.

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