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Scottish Scurvygrass

Cochlearia officinalis scotica

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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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, Sea Kale, 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:
Biennial or Perennial
Maximum Size:
15 centimetres tall
Cliffs, grassland, rocky places, saltmarshes, sand dunes, sea cliffs, seaside.

White, 4 petals
Small white flowers but often mauve-coloured. Insect pollinated.
The fruit is a flattened, oval pod. The fruit are technically known as 'siliquas'.
The leaves are long stalked and kidney-shaped. Scottish Scurvygrass is like a miniature version of English Scurvy-grass (Cochlearia officinalis) and often grows alongside of it.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Cochlearia officinalis scotica, also known as Scottish scurvygrass, is a subspecies of Cochlearia officinalis. It is a perennial herb that is native to Scotland and the northern parts of England and Wales. It is a member of the Brassicaceae family and typically grows to be about 10-30 cm tall. The plant has small, white flowers that bloom in the spring and early summer. The leaves are basal, spoon-shaped and succulent. It is commonly found in coastal areas, rocky shores and cliffs.

The plant has a long history of medicinal and culinary use, particularly for the treatment of scurvy, due to its high levels of vitamin C. The leaves and stem can be eaten raw or cooked, and are used to make pickles, jams and sauces. It is also used as a garnish for fish dishes.


Scottish Scurvygrass, or Cochlearia officinalis scotica, is a small, unassuming plant that grows along the rocky shores of Scotland. Despite its humble appearance, this plant has a rich history and has played an important role in the health and survival of seafarers for centuries.

The plant is a member of the Brassicaceae family, which includes other well-known plants like broccoli, kale, and mustard. It grows to be about 10-15cm tall and has small, white flowers that bloom in the summer months. The leaves of the plant are small and spoon-shaped, which is where the plant gets its name; the Latin word cochlearia means "spoon" and refers to the shape of the leaves.

Scottish Scurvygrass is a particularly important plant because it is a rich source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient for human health. Before the discovery of vitamin C, scurvy was a common and deadly disease among sailors who spent long periods of time at sea without access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Scurvy is caused by a deficiency of vitamin C, and symptoms include weakness, lethargy, and bleeding gums.

Scottish Scurvygrass was one of the few plants that could be found on the rocky shores of Scotland that contained significant amounts of vitamin C. Sailors would often collect the plant and eat it to prevent scurvy. The plant was also known for its medicinal properties, and was used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections and rheumatism.

Today, Scottish Scurvygrass is still used in traditional medicine, and is also used in some culinary applications. The plant has a strong, tangy flavor that is often used to add a unique taste to salads and other dishes.

Despite its importance, Scottish Scurvygrass is now considered a threatened plant species in Scotland due to coastal development and over-harvesting. Conservation efforts are underway to protect the plant and ensure its survival.

Scottish Scurvygrass may be a small and unassuming plant, but it has played a crucial role in human history. Its high vitamin C content has saved countless lives and its unique flavor continues to be appreciated by chefs and foodies alike. As we work to protect this important plant species, we can appreciate its rich history and ongoing contributions to human health and culture.

One interesting aspect of Scottish Scurvygrass is the way in which it has been used in traditional medicine. In addition to being a source of vitamin C, the plant is also rich in a variety of other nutrients, including minerals like calcium, potassium, and iron. These nutrients make it a valuable plant for maintaining overall health and wellness.

In traditional medicine, Scottish Scurvygrass has been used to treat a variety of ailments, from respiratory infections and rheumatism to digestive issues and skin conditions. The plant has been traditionally used as a diuretic and a detoxifying agent, helping to rid the body of harmful toxins and excess fluids. It has also been used to treat wounds, with some reports suggesting that it has antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Today, Scottish Scurvygrass is still used in some herbal remedies and is considered a valuable plant for maintaining overall health and wellness. It is often used in teas, tinctures, and other preparations, and is believed to have a range of health benefits, including immune system support, anti-inflammatory properties, and digestive support.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect Scottish Scurvygrass and ensure its survival. In Scotland, the plant is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which makes it illegal to uproot or destroy the plant. Additionally, conservation organizations are working to promote awareness of the plant and its importance, and to encourage responsible harvesting practices that will help ensure its long-term survival.

Scottish Scurvygrass is a unique and valuable plant that has played an important role in human history. From its use as a source of vitamin C to its traditional medicinal uses, this small plant has had a big impact on the health and wellbeing of people around the world. As we work to protect this important species, we can appreciate its ongoing contributions to human health and culture, and continue to learn from its rich history.

Another interesting aspect of Scottish Scurvygrass is its adaptability to harsh and extreme environments. The plant is able to grow in rocky, coastal habitats where other plants struggle to survive. Its ability to thrive in such environments is due in part to its ability to store water in its leaves, which helps it to survive in arid and harsh conditions.

The plant is also able to grow in salty soil, which is another factor that makes it well-suited to coastal habitats. The ability to tolerate high levels of salt is a rare and valuable trait in plants, and Scottish Scurvygrass is one of the few species that is able to do so.

The adaptability of Scottish Scurvygrass is one reason why it has been able to survive in the wild despite the many threats it faces. Coastal development, over-harvesting, and climate change all pose significant risks to the plant, but its ability to survive in harsh environments gives it a fighting chance.

Despite its adaptability, however, Scottish Scurvygrass is still considered a threatened species in Scotland, and conservation efforts are essential to ensure its survival. This includes protecting the plant from destruction and over-harvesting, as well as promoting awareness of its importance and value.

In addition to its practical and medicinal uses, Scottish Scurvygrass is also an important cultural symbol in Scotland. The plant is featured on the country's coat of arms and is a common motif in Scottish art and literature. Its resilience in the face of harsh conditions is seen as a reflection of the Scottish spirit, and it has become an important symbol of the country's heritage and identity.

In conclusion, Scottish Scurvygrass is a fascinating and valuable plant with a rich history and cultural significance. Its adaptability to harsh environments, its nutritional and medicinal properties, and its role in human history all make it a plant worth celebrating and protecting. As we work to ensure the survival of this important species, we can appreciate its ongoing contributions to human health, culture, and resilience.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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