How to Identify Sea Kale
Scientific Name: Crambe Maritima
Also known as: Crambe.
Habitat: Some coastal regions of the Black and Baltic Seas and North western Europe, but absent in the Mediteranean. It grows above the tide line, preferring sandy or shingle beaches
Description: Crambe maritima is a hardy PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.6 m (2ft) with largy, thick, frilly blue-green leaves.
Leaves – The leaves resemble a thick, frilly cabbage and it is a relative in the same family. they are silvery blue-green, with a pale bloom on them that rubs off. The are up to 30 with a thick stem and central vein, and grow in loose, ruffly clusters from the sand or shingle. They might sometimes have a purplish tinge, particularly on the new shoots.
Flowers – The flowers are white, with 4 neatly rounded petals and yellow stamens in the middle, produced in clusters.
Seeds – the round seed pods each contain a single seed
Leaves – blanched or cooked like cabbage, they have a crisp texture and a pleasant nutty flavour a little like asparagus . There are records form the 17th and 18th centuries of the young shoots being forced and served as a delicacy, so much so that over-harvesting caused it to dissappear form some parts of Britain . The flowers are also edible, as are the seed pods for a short time before they rioen and become too hard.
none known – though it is very nutritious and contains ample vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.
Appears in early spring. It is in flower from Mar to May
It can resemble some kinds of cultivated kale, which are also edible. Sea Holly eryngium maritimum has similar coloured leaves and can grow in the same habitat, but their sharp spikes and thistly looking flowers should help you tell it apart.