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Common Scurvygrass

Cochlearia officinalis

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 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 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:
30 centimetres tall
Cliffs, gardens, hedgerows, mountains, mud, mudflats, roadsides, rocky places, saltmarshes, seaside.

White, 4 petals
White flowers, each measuring between 8 and 15mm across. They appear in a crowded spike at the top of the plant. Each flower is long-stalked. Pollinated by flies, bees and beetles.
Spherical to egg-shaped pods. The seeds ripen from July to September.
A biennial or perennial flower with rounded to heart-shaped lower leaves and upper leaves which clasp the stem. Sometimes seen growing on salted road verges.
The flowers are fragrant.
Other Names:
Scurvygrass, Spoonwort.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Cochlearia officinalis, also known as scurvygrass or spoonwort, is a perennial herb that is native to Europe, Asia, and North America. 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 and rocky areas, growing in crevices or in rocky soils.

C. officinalis has a high content of vitamin C and has been traditionally used for medicinal purposes, particularly for the treatment of scurvy. 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. It is easy to grow from seed and it does well in full sun and well-drained soil. It's also used in cultivation as rock garden plants.


Common Scurvygrass (Cochlearia officinalis) is a small, hardy plant that is native to coastal regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. This plant has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb, as well as a culinary herb, and it is still popular today for its health benefits and unique flavor.

Appearance and Habitat

Common Scurvygrass is a low-growing plant that typically reaches a height of no more than six inches. It has small, glossy green leaves that are thick and waxy to the touch, and it produces small, white flowers in the spring and summer months. The plant thrives in sandy, rocky, or gravelly soil, and is often found growing near the coast or in areas with high salinity.

Culinary Uses

Common Scurvygrass has a distinctive tangy, peppery flavor that is often compared to horseradish. It can be used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches, and seafood dishes, and it can also be used to make a refreshing tea. The leaves and flowers of the plant are edible, and they can be used both fresh and dried.

Medicinal Uses

Common Scurvygrass has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb, and it is still used today for its health benefits. The plant is rich in vitamin C, and was once used to prevent and treat scurvy, a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and may be beneficial for respiratory health.

In addition, Common Scurvygrass has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive disorders, arthritis, and skin conditions. While there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims, the plant remains a popular natural remedy for many people.


While Common Scurvygrass is generally considered safe, there are a few cautions to keep in mind. The plant contains high levels of oxalates, which can cause kidney stones in some people. In addition, some people may experience skin irritation or allergic reactions when handling the plant.

Common Scurvygrass is a unique and versatile plant that has been valued for centuries for its culinary and medicinal uses. Whether used fresh or dried, the plant's tangy flavor can add a zesty twist to a variety of dishes. And for those looking for a natural remedy for certain ailments, Common Scurvygrass may be worth exploring further. As with any natural remedy, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using Common Scurvygrass to treat any medical conditions.

More Information

Historically, Common Scurvygrass was an important food source for sailors on long voyages, as the plant's high vitamin C content helped prevent scurvy, a disease that was common among sailors at the time. In fact, the plant's name is derived from this historical use, as it was often used to treat scurvy during the Age of Exploration.

In addition to its traditional uses, Common Scurvygrass has also been the subject of scientific research in recent years. Studies have found that the plant may have potential as a natural treatment for conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory problems. The plant's high vitamin C content may also help support a healthy immune system and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Common Scurvygrass is also an important plant for wildlife, as it provides food and habitat for a variety of coastal species. In the UK, the plant is a key part of the diet of the rare Large Blue butterfly, which feeds exclusively on Common Scurvygrass during its larval stage.

While Common Scurvygrass is not as well-known as some other culinary or medicinal herbs, it is a fascinating and useful plant that has played an important role in human history. Whether used to add flavor to a salad or to support respiratory health, Common Scurvygrass is a unique and valuable addition to any herb garden or kitchen.

In addition to being used in cooking and as a natural remedy, Common Scurvygrass also has some interesting cultural and historical significance. In parts of Europe, the plant is traditionally associated with the festival of St. John's Eve, a celebration of the summer solstice. In some regions, people would collect Common Scurvygrass and use it to decorate their homes and gardens during this festive time.

The plant also has a place in folklore and mythology. In Norse mythology, the god Odin is said to have used Common Scurvygrass to heal his horse, Sleipnir. The plant has also been associated with the goddess Aphrodite in Greek mythology, as it was believed to have grown from the tears of the goddess as she mourned the death of her lover, Adonis.

In modern times, Common Scurvygrass has been the subject of some conservation efforts, as the plant is considered to be rare or endangered in some regions. In the UK, for example, the plant is protected by law and is considered to be a priority species for conservation efforts. This is due in part to the decline of coastal habitats, which are critical for the survival of the plant and the species that depend on it.

Overall, Common Scurvygrass is a fascinating and versatile plant with a rich history and a range of uses. Whether used for its culinary or medicinal properties, or simply appreciated for its unique flavor and cultural significance, Common Scurvygrass is a plant that deserves a place in any garden or kitchen.