Crithmum maritimum

Botanical Name : Crithmum maritimum
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Crithmum
Species: C. maritimum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Synonyms: Sea Fennel. Crest Marine. Sampier.
(German) Meerfenchel.
(Italian) Herba di San Pietra. Sanpetra.

Common Names : Samphire, Rock samphire, or Sea fennel, Crithmum maritimum

Habitat :Crithmum maritimum 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.It grows on the cliffs and rocks, or more rarely on shingle or sand, by the sea.

Description:
Crithmum maritimum is a perennial herb, growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).Leaves are biternately or triternately compound; leaflets linear, fleshy, glaucous, 1/2 inch long. It is well distinguished by its long, fleshy, bright-green, shining leaflets (full of aromatic juice) and umbels of tiny, yellowish-green blossoms. The whole plant is aromatic and has a powerful scent.Flowers in compound umbels, very small, whaite or yellowish; fruit ovoid, ribbed, 1/4 inch long.
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It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.

 Cultivation:   
Prefers a moist light sandy or gravelly soil, doing very well between stones or by a south-east facing wall. Requires a warm dry well-drained sunny position and shade from the midday sun. Requires saline conditions. Plants are best grown in moist salty soil or a very well-drained poor dry soil. When grown away from the coast, this plant requires a warm sheltered position and some protection in cold winters. At one time this plant was sometimes cultivated in the vegetable garden, though it is quite difficult to do this successfully. It is difficult to grow outside its natural habitat.

Propagation:   
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Sow in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 3 – 6 weeks at 15°c. One report says that the seed only has a short viability and should be sown as soon as it is ripe, but it has germinated well with us when sown in April in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer. Division in spring

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Edible Uses:
Rock samphire has fleshy, divided aromatic leaves that Culpeper described as having a “pleasant, hot and spicy taste”

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, although it is possible that at least one of these may refer to marsh samphire or glasswort (Salicornia europaea), a very common confusion.

Medicinal Uses:
Carminative;  Depurative;  Digestive;  Diuretic.

Rock samphire is little used in herbal medicine, though it is a good diuretic and holds out potential as a treatment for obesity. It has a high vitamin C and mineral content and is thought to relieve flatulence and to act as a digestive remedy. The young growing tips are carminative, depurative, digestive and diuretic. They are gathered when in active growth in the spring and used fresh. The leaves have the reputation for helping people lose weight and so are used in treating cases of obesity as well kidney complaints and sluggishness. The essential oil is a digestive, a few drops being sprinkled on the food.

Other Uses: An essential oil from the plant is used in perfumery.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crithmum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Crithmum+maritimum
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/samphi10.html
http://titanarum.uconn.edu/198501242.html

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