Common Name :Common Scurvygrass
Habitat: Cochlearia officinalis is native to western, northern and central Europe, including Britain. It grows abundant on the shores in Scotland, growing inland along some of its rivers and Highland mountains and not uncommon in stony, muddy and sandy soils in England and Ireland, also in the Arctic Circle, sea-coasts of Northern and Western Europe and to high elevations in the great European mountain chains.
Cochlearia officinalis is a Biennial/Perennial growing to 0.3 m (1 ft). It is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to August, and the seeds ripen from July to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite and are pollinated by Bees, flies, and beetles. The plant is self-fertile. It is also noted for attracting wildlife.The upper leaves are sessile – lower ones stalked, deltoid orbicular or reniform entire or toothed angularly. Flowers all summer in white short racemes – pods nearly globular – prominent valves of the mid-rib when dry. It has an unpleasant smell and a bitter, warm, acrid taste, very pungent when fresh.
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The plant acquired its common name from the observation that it cured scurvy, and it was taken on board ships in dried bundles or distilled extracts. Its very bitter taste was usually disguised with herbs and spices; however, this didn’t prevent scurvygrass drinks and sandwiches becoming a popular fad in the UK until the middle of the nineteenth century, when citrus fruits became more readily available.
Constituents: Leaves abound in a pungent oil containing sulphur, of the butylic series.
Formerly the fresh herb was greatly used on sea-voyages as a preventative of scurvey. It is stimulating, aperient, diuretic, antiscorbutic. The essential oil is of benefit in paralytic and rheumatic cases; scurvy-grass ale was a popular tonic drink.
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