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Sea Kale

Crambe maritima

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Brassicaceae (Cabbage)
Also in this family:
Alpine Pennycress, Alpine Rock-cress, American Wintercress, Annual Wall Rocket, Austrian Yellowcress, Awlwort, Bastard Cabbage, Black Mustard, Bristol Rock-cress, Charlock, Common Scurvygrass, Common Whitlowgrass, Coralroot, Creeping Yellowcress, Cuckooflower, Dame's-violet, Danish Scurvygrass, Dittander, Early Wintercress, Eastern Rocket, English Scurvygrass, Evergreen Candytuft, False London Rocket, Field Pennycress, Field Pepperwort, Flixweed, Garden Arabis, Garden Candytuft, Garden Cress, Garden Radish, Garden Rocket, Garlic Mustard, Glabrous Whitlowgrass, Gold of Pleasure, Great Yellowcress, Greater Cuckooflower, Greater Periwinkle, Greater Swinecress, Hairy Bittercress, Hairy Rock-cress, Hairy Rocket, Hairy Whitlowgrass, Hedge Mustard, Hoary Cress, Hoary Mustard, Hoary Stock, Hoary Whitlowgrass, Honesty, Horseradish, Hutchinsia, Hybrid Watercress, Intermediate Periwinkle, Isle of Man Cabbage, Large Bittercress, Lesser Swinecress, London Rocket, Lundy Cabbage, Marsh Yellowcress, Mountain Scurvygrass, Narrow-fruited Watercress, Narrow-leaved Bittercress, Narrow-leaved Pepperwort, Northern Rock-cress, Northern Yellowcress, Oilseed Rape, Perennial Rocket, Perennial Wall Rocket, Perfoliate Pennycress, Pinnate Coralroot, Purple Rock-cress, Pyrenean Scurvygrass, Rock Whitlowgrass, Russian Rocket, Scottish Scurvygrass, Sea Radish, Sea Rocket, Sea Stock, Shepherd's Cress, Shepherd's Purse, Small-flowered Wintercress, Smith's Pepperwort, Steppe Cabbage, Swede, Sweet Alyssum, Tall Rocket, Thale Cress, Tower Mustard, Treacle Mustard, Trefoil Cress, Turnip, Wall Whitlowgrass, Wallflower, Wallflower Cabbage, Warty Cabbage, Watercress, Wavy Bittercress, White Mustard, Wild Cabbage, Wild Candytuft, Wild Radish, Wild Turnip, Wintercress, Woad, Yellow Whitlowgrass
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Beaches, gardens, rocky places, sand dunes, sea cliffs, seaside.

White, 6 petals
The white flowers exist in broad, flat-topped clusters. Pollinated by bees.
Small globular pods, each containing a single seed.
A long-lived, mound-forming perennial plant of the seaside. It is a thickset plant with large, bluish or greyish, cabbage-type leaves. The leaves can be simple or divided. Most common on the English coastline. Very unusual elsewhere within the British Isles.
The small white flowers are fragrant.
Other Names:
Crambe, Sea Cabbage, Sea Cole, Sea Colewort, Seacole, Seakale.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Crambe maritima, commonly known as sea kale or sea cole, is a species of perennial flowering plant in the brassica family. It is native to coastal areas of Europe and Asia, and it grows wild on sandy or rocky shores. It is a hardy plant that can tolerate salt spray and strong winds. It forms large rosettes of blue-green leaves and produces large clusters of small, white, four-petalled flowers in the summer. The young leaves and shoots can be eaten raw or cooked, and they have a slightly bitter and salty taste. The plant is also cultivated for its ornamental value, it's often grown in rock gardens or coastal gardens. It needs full sun and well-drained soil to grow well. It can be propagated by seed or by dividing the roots.


Sea kale, also known as Crambe maritima, is a unique and versatile plant that grows along the coastlines of the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. It is a perennial vegetable that has been consumed for centuries, prized for its succulent, tender shoots and mild, nutty flavor. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at what makes sea kale so special and how you can incorporate it into your own culinary creations.

Sea kale is a member of the Brassicaceae family, which includes other popular vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Unlike its close relatives, however, sea kale is adapted to harsh coastal environments, and as a result, it has developed a number of unique traits that set it apart from other vegetables. For example, sea kale has thick, waxy leaves that help protect it from salt spray and drying winds, and it has a deep taproot that allows it to draw moisture and nutrients from deep within the soil.

In the spring, sea kale produces tender shoots that can be harvested and eaten raw or cooked. These shoots are high in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C, and they have a mild, nutty flavor that pairs well with a variety of seasonings and sauces. To prepare sea kale shoots, simply blanch them in boiling water for a minute or two, then drain and season to taste. They can be served on their own as a side dish, or they can be used in salads, soups, and stir-fries.

Sea kale can also be grown as an ornamental plant, thanks to its attractive foliage and delicate flowers. The leaves are a silvery-blue color, and the flowers are small and white, with a sweet fragrance that attracts bees and other pollinators. If you're interested in growing sea kale in your own garden, you'll need to provide it with well-draining soil, plenty of sunlight, and protection from strong winds. It's also important to note that sea kale is a slow-growing plant that can take several years to reach maturity, so be patient and give it time to establish itself.

In addition to its culinary and ornamental uses, sea kale also has a number of medicinal properties. It has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments, including rheumatism, scurvy, and respiratory infections. Recent research has also shown that sea kale contains compounds that may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer effects, making it a promising subject for further study.

One of the unique characteristics of sea kale is its ability to grow in salty, sandy soils. This makes it an ideal crop for coastal regions where other vegetables may struggle to thrive. Additionally, sea kale is a low-maintenance plant that requires little attention once established, making it an attractive option for gardeners looking for easy-to-grow perennials.

Sea kale is also an environmentally friendly crop, as it requires minimal fertilizer and pesticide use compared to other vegetables. Its deep taproot also helps prevent soil erosion and improves soil health by breaking up compacted soils.

Historically, sea kale was a prized vegetable in Europe, particularly in England and France, where it was once cultivated in large quantities. In fact, it was so highly valued that it was often served to royalty and other high-ranking officials. However, its popularity waned in the 19th century as other vegetables became more readily available, and today it is largely considered a niche crop.

Despite its relative obscurity, sea kale has recently gained popularity among food enthusiasts and specialty chefs who value its unique flavor and nutritional benefits. It has also been featured in a number of high-end restaurants, where it is often prepared in innovative and creative ways.

Sea kale has a rich history in traditional medicine, with historical records suggesting that it was used to treat a variety of ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, and tuberculosis. Its leaves and roots were also applied topically to soothe wounds, burns, and skin irritations.

Today, scientific research has shed light on the potential health benefits of sea kale. Studies have shown that it contains high levels of antioxidants, which can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.

Sea kale is also a good source of dietary fiber, which can help regulate digestion and promote feelings of fullness. It is also low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, and potassium.

In addition to its nutritional and medicinal properties, sea kale has also been used in traditional dyeing and paper-making. The leaves and stems of the plant contain a blue-green pigment that can be used to dye textiles, while the fibrous inner bark can be used to make paper.

Sea kale is not widely available in most grocery stores, but it can be found at some specialty markets, farmers' markets, and online retailers. If you are unable to find fresh sea kale, you may be able to find preserved or pickled versions that can be used in a variety of dishes.

When selecting fresh sea kale, look for shoots that are firm and crisp with a bright green color. Avoid shoots that are wilted or discolored, as this may indicate that they are past their prime.

To prepare sea kale for cooking, start by removing any tough stems and outer leaves. Then, blanch the shoots in boiling water for 1-2 minutes to remove any bitterness and soften them up. You can then use the blanched sea kale in a variety of dishes, such as salads, stir-fries, and soups. It also pairs well with seafood, roasted meats, and other vegetables.

Sea kale is a versatile ingredient that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. For example, it can be used to make a creamy, savory gratin or a sweet, custardy dessert. Experiment with different cooking methods and seasonings to discover new and exciting ways to use this unique vegetable.

In conclusion, sea kale is a fascinating and versatile vegetable that offers a wide range of benefits. From its culinary versatility to its environmental sustainability and potential health benefits, sea kale is a plant that is definitely worth exploring.

Facts about Sea Kale

Sea kale (Crambe maritima) is a perennial vegetable that grows in sandy, salty soils along the coastlines of Europe and North Africa. It has a rich history in traditional medicine and was once highly valued as a culinary vegetable.

Here are some key facts and a summary of the information about sea kale:

  • Sea kale is a low-maintenance plant that requires little attention once established.
  • It is environmentally friendly, as it requires minimal fertilizer and pesticide use compared to other vegetables.
  • Sea kale has potential health benefits, including high levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and being a good source of dietary fiber.
  • It is not widely available in most grocery stores but can be found at some specialty markets, farmers' markets, and online retailers.
  • When preparing sea kale for cooking, blanch it in boiling water for 1-2 minutes to remove any bitterness and soften it up.
  • Sea kale can be used in a variety of dishes, such as salads, stir-fries, soups, and paired with seafood, roasted meats, and other vegetables.
  • It is a versatile ingredient that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, such as a gratin or a custardy dessert.

In summary, sea kale is a unique and valuable vegetable that offers a wide range of benefits. From its culinary versatility to its medicinal properties and environmental sustainability, sea kale is a plant that is definitely worth exploring.


Sea Kale filmed in Aldeburgh, Suffolk on the 27th June 2022.


Music by Kevin MacLeod.
Song title: Epic Unease

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