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Rock Samphire

Crithmum maritimum

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:
Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 centimetres tall
Beaches, cliffs, rocky places, sea cliffs, seaside.

Green, 5 petals
Yellowish-green umbels with lobed lower bracts, up to 5cm wide.
A cylindrical capsule.
The succulent, fleshy leaves are pinnately divided into 2 or 3 linear lobes. The leaves are arranged alternately along the stems.
The leaves are strong smelling when crushed.
Other Names:
Camphire, Crest Marine, Peter's Cress, Rock Fennel, Samphire, Sea Fennel, Sea Samphire.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Crithmum maritimum, also known as samphire or sea fennel, is a perennial herb that grows along coastal areas in Europe and North Africa. It is known for its edible shoots and leaves, which have a salty and slightly spicy flavor. The plant has been traditionally used in cooking and as a seasoning, but it is also rich in vitamins and minerals. It's growing popularity as a delicacy in recent years led to over-harvesting and conservation effort have been taken to sustain its population.


Rock Samphire (Crithmum maritimum) is a unique and flavorful plant that grows on rocky cliffs and shorelines in coastal regions. It is a member of the Apiaceae family, which includes other well-known herbs such as parsley, dill, and fennel. The plant is native to Europe and the Mediterranean, but can also be found in some areas of North America.

Historically, Rock Samphire has been used as a medicinal plant and culinary herb for centuries. It was particularly popular during the Elizabethan era, when it was used to flavor a variety of dishes, including seafood, pickles, and sauces. In fact, it was so highly regarded that Shakespeare himself wrote about it in his play "King Lear", where it was referred to as "Samphire, that shows itself black when it is at the top of the cliff."

The plant has a distinctive flavor that is slightly salty, with a hint of lemon and pepper. It can be eaten raw in salads or used as a seasoning for fish and other seafood dishes. It is also commonly pickled, which intensifies its flavor and makes it a popular accompaniment to smoked fish.

In addition to its culinary uses, Rock Samphire is also believed to have a number of health benefits. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C and potassium, and has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive issues and respiratory problems.

However, it is worth noting that Rock Samphire should be harvested with care, as it can be easily over-collected and is a protected species in some areas. It is also important to avoid harvesting plants growing in polluted areas, as they may contain high levels of toxins.

Overall, Rock Samphire is a unique and versatile plant with a long and interesting history. Whether used as a seasoning, a pickled accompaniment, or a medicinal herb, it is a valuable addition to any kitchen or medicine cabinet.

Rock Samphire is a hardy plant that thrives in harsh coastal environments. It is a perennial plant that can grow up to 50 cm tall, with green, fleshy leaves that resemble those of celery. The plant produces clusters of small, yellow-green flowers that bloom from late spring to early summer. Its roots are deep and can penetrate the rocks, making it an important plant for stabilizing cliffs and rocky shorelines.

In addition to its use in cuisine and medicine, Rock Samphire has also been used for a variety of other purposes throughout history. For example, it was once used as a dye plant, with the leaves and stems producing a yellow-green color when boiled. It was also used as a source of salt, as the plant's leaves are naturally salty and can be used to flavor food in place of salt.

Today, Rock Samphire is primarily used in high-end restaurants and by chefs who specialize in foraged foods. It can be difficult to find in grocery stores or markets, but can often be found in specialty food stores or online. Some enthusiasts also grow their own Rock Samphire, either in gardens or in containers.

In terms of nutrition, Rock Samphire is a good source of vitamins and minerals. It is particularly high in vitamin C, which is important for immune function and skin health. It is also a good source of potassium, which is important for heart health and blood pressure regulation.

As mentioned earlier, Rock Samphire is a protected species in some areas, so it's important to check local regulations before harvesting or foraging for the plant. In some regions, it may be illegal to pick the plant or to remove it from the wild. Additionally, it's important to avoid over-harvesting, as this can damage the plant's population and harm its ability to reproduce.

If you do decide to harvest or forage for Rock Samphire, it's best to do so in the early morning or late evening, when the plant is less likely to be stressed by the heat of the sun. When picking the plant, it's important to leave some of it behind, so that it can continue to grow and reproduce. You should also avoid harvesting plants that are too small, as these may not have had a chance to fully develop and reproduce.

Once you have harvested Rock Samphire, it's best to use it fresh or pickle it as soon as possible. To pickle the plant, you can combine it with vinegar, salt, and other spices, and let it sit for several weeks to allow the flavors to meld together. Pickled Rock Samphire can be used as a condiment for seafood dishes or added to sandwiches and salads for a salty, tangy flavor.

Rock Samphire is a versatile and flavorful plant that has been used for centuries for its culinary and medicinal properties. While it may not be as well-known as other herbs and spices, it's a valuable addition to any kitchen or medicine cabinet. Whether you grow it yourself, forage for it in the wild, or purchase it from a specialty food store, Rock Samphire is a unique and delicious way to add flavor and nutrition to your diet.

Rock Samphire has also been used in traditional medicine for a variety of purposes. For example, it has been used to treat respiratory problems such as asthma and coughs, as well as digestive issues such as bloating and indigestion. Some studies have also suggested that Rock Samphire may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, although more research is needed to fully understand its potential health benefits.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Rock Samphire has been used in folklore and mythology throughout history. In ancient Greece, it was associated with the sea god Poseidon, and was believed to have the power to protect sailors from shipwrecks. In medieval Europe, it was associated with witches and was believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits.

Today, Rock Samphire continues to be a popular ingredient in high-end cuisine, and can often be found in dishes at Michelin-starred restaurants. Chefs use it to add a salty, tangy flavor to seafood dishes, salads, and pickles, and it's also popular as a garnish for cocktails.

Overall, Rock Samphire is a unique and fascinating plant with a long and varied history. Whether you're interested in its culinary, medicinal, or cultural uses, there's no denying that Rock Samphire is a plant with a lot to offer. So next time you're at the seaside, keep an eye out for this hardy and flavorful plant – you never know what delicious and nutritious dishes it might inspire!


Rock Samphire filmed at Humphrey Head, Cumbria on the 17th July 2022.


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