Open the Advanced Search

Sea Rocket

Cakile maritima

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.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


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 Kale, Sea Radish, 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, rocky places, saltmarshes, sand dunes, sea cliffs, seaside.

Pink, 4 petals
Mauve or pale to dark lilac flowers borne in clusters, having 4 petals each.
Flattish, fleshy seed pods, containing 2 seeds each.
The leaves are alternately arranged along the stems. The succulent leaves are pinnately lobed with sparsely toothed edges. The lobes are linear in shape. Leaf surfaces are smooth and not hairy.
Fragrant flowers.
Other Names:
Common Sea Rocket, European Sea Rocket, Purple Sea Rocket.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Cakile maritima, also known as sea rocket, is a species of flowering plant in the family Brassicaceae. It is native to coastal regions of Europe, Asia and North America, and typically grows in sandy or rocky coastal habitats, such as beaches, dunes, and cliffs. The plant is an annual or biennial herb that can grow up to 50 cm tall and has succulent, fleshy leaves and small white or pink flowers that bloom in the spring and summer. The plant is salt tolerant, and it can survive in harsh coastal conditions. It is often used as a cover crop, and it is also used for phytoremediation of soil contaminated with heavy metals. The leaves, flowers, and seed pods are edible and have a unique and spicy flavor.


Sea Rocket, scientifically known as Cakile maritima, is a flowering plant that is native to the coastal regions of Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. It is a member of the Brassicaceae family and is commonly found on sandy beaches and dunes, where it is well adapted to the harsh conditions of the coastal environment.

The Sea Rocket plant is an annual, meaning it completes its life cycle in one year. It grows up to 60 cm tall, with a thick stem that is usually branched at the base. The leaves of the Sea Rocket are succulent and are often lobed or toothed. They are also covered with fine hairs that help to reduce water loss through transpiration.

The Sea Rocket produces small, white or pinkish flowers that are about 1 cm in diameter. The flowers bloom from June to September, and are self-fertilizing. The fruit of the Sea Rocket is a thin, elongated pod that can reach up to 10 cm in length. Inside the pod are small, black seeds that are about 1 mm in size.

Sea Rocket is an important plant for the coastal ecosystem. It plays a crucial role in stabilizing the sand dunes and preventing erosion. The thick stem and succulent leaves help to trap sand and prevent it from being blown away by the wind. In addition, the plant's extensive root system helps to anchor it in place and further stabilizes the sand.

The Sea Rocket is also an important source of food for a variety of coastal animals, including insects, birds, and small mammals. The seeds of the Sea Rocket are rich in oil and protein, and are a valuable food source for many species.

Aside from its ecological importance, Sea Rocket has also been used for various medicinal purposes. In traditional medicine, it was used to treat respiratory ailments, digestive issues, and skin problems. It was also used as a diuretic and to promote lactation in nursing mothers.

In recent years, Sea Rocket has gained popularity as a culinary ingredient. The young leaves and seed pods are edible and have a slightly salty, spicy flavor. They can be eaten raw in salads or used as a garnish, or cooked and added to soups, stews, and other dishes.

Sea Rocket is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of soil types, from sandy to clay soils. It is also tolerant of salt spray and can withstand occasional flooding by seawater. These adaptations make it an ideal plant for stabilizing coastal habitats that are prone to erosion and other environmental disturbances.

In addition to its ecological and medicinal uses, Sea Rocket has been used in traditional cultures for other purposes. For example, the seeds were used in some cultures as a form of currency, and the plant was also used in religious ceremonies.

Recent research has also highlighted the potential benefits of Sea Rocket as a sustainable crop for the future. The plant's ability to grow in challenging environments and its rich nutritional value make it a promising candidate for cultivation in areas that are not suitable for traditional crops.

Furthermore, Sea Rocket is being investigated for its potential as a biofuel. The high oil content of the seeds makes it a good source of biodiesel, which could help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Despite its many uses and adaptations, Sea Rocket is also facing threats from human activities. Coastal development, pollution, and climate change are all putting pressure on the plant's fragile habitats. Conservation efforts are necessary to protect Sea Rocket and the many other species that rely on it for survival.

Sea Rocket is a versatile plant that has been used in various traditional medicine systems. In Chinese medicine, it was used to treat coughs, asthma, and swelling, while in Ayurvedic medicine, it was used to treat digestive disorders and skin diseases. Recent scientific studies have also identified potential health benefits associated with Sea Rocket. For example, the plant is rich in antioxidants, which may help to protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Furthermore, Sea Rocket has been used in bioremediation efforts to clean up contaminated coastal environments. The plant has the ability to absorb heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium, from the soil, which can help to reduce the levels of these toxic substances in the environment.

Another interesting aspect of Sea Rocket is its ability to change the color of its flowers in response to environmental factors such as light and temperature. The flowers can be either white or pink, and the color can change depending on the time of day and the temperature.

Sea Rocket is a plant that can be easily grown in gardens and as a cover crop. Its ability to stabilize sandy soils and its high nutritional value make it an attractive option for gardeners and farmers who are interested in sustainable agriculture.

Sea Rocket also has a rich culinary history, particularly in coastal regions where it is abundant. The leaves, seeds, and flowers of Sea Rocket are all edible and can be used in a variety of dishes. The young leaves have a mild flavor and can be used in salads, while the mature leaves have a more pungent taste and can be used in stir-fries or as a seasoning.

The seeds of Sea Rocket can be roasted and ground to make a coffee-like beverage, or they can be used as a seasoning in bread or meat dishes. The flowers can be used as a garnish or added to salads for their aesthetic appeal.

Sea Rocket is also a popular ingredient in seafood dishes. It pairs well with shellfish, and its tangy flavor can help to balance out the richness of fish and other seafood. It is often used in coastal cuisines, such as those found in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries.

In addition to its culinary uses, Sea Rocket has also been used in the production of natural dyes. The plant produces a yellow dye that was traditionally used to color textiles and clothing.

Sea Rocket also plays an important role in the ecosystem as a habitat and food source for a variety of wildlife. The plant provides shelter and nesting sites for birds such as the European Stonechat and the Common Whitethroat. Its leaves and seeds are also eaten by various bird species, including the Linnet and the Goldfinch.

In addition, Sea Rocket is an important food source for several marine and terrestrial animals. The seeds and leaves of the plant are consumed by a variety of insects, including the Cabbage Moth and the Diamondback Moth. The leaves are also eaten by various herbivorous mammals, such as rabbits and deer. In marine environments, the seeds and leaves of Sea Rocket are consumed by a variety of fish and crustaceans, such as the Sand Goby and the Common Shore Crab.

Sea Rocket is also a key component of dune stabilization and restoration efforts. The plant's deep roots help to stabilize sandy soils and prevent erosion, which is particularly important in areas that are prone to storms and coastal flooding. Its ability to grow in harsh coastal environments also makes it an attractive option for restoring degraded dune ecosystems.

In conclusion, Sea Rocket is a plant with many ecological, medicinal, culinary, and cultural uses. Its adaptations to the coastal environment and its ability to provide food and habitat for a variety of wildlife make it a valuable resource that we should strive to protect and conserve. As we face increasing environmental challenges, the resilience and versatility of plants like Sea Rocket may become increasingly important in ensuring the health and sustainability of our ecosystems and communities.


Sea Rocket filmed at Formby, Lancashire on the 25th September 2022.


Please remember to Like and Subscribe to the WildFlowerWeb YouTube channel at

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map