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Sea Sandwort

Honckenya peploides

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
40 centimetres tall
Beaches, rocky places, saltmarshes, sand dunes, seaside, wetland.

White, 5 petals
5 small white unnotched petals and pale green narrow sepals which are shorter on the female flowers.
A green, 3-valved, globular capsule, up to 1cm long.
The opposite and stalkless, smooth and glossy leaves are untoothed, oval and pointed. Not hairy.
Flowers have a strong smell of honey.
Other Names:
Sea Chickweed, Sea Pimpernel, Sea-beach Sandwort, Seaside Sandplant, Seaside Sandwort.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Honckenya peploides, also known as sea sandwort, is a species of flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia and North America. It is a small herbaceous perennial plant with a prostrate habit, forming mats on the ground. It has small, delicate leaves and produces small, white or pink flowers. This species is adapted to grow in coastal habitats, such as sandy beaches and dunes, salt marshes and rocky shores, and is considered to be a salt-tolerant and drought-resistant species. It is also known as "Sea Sandwort" due to its preference for growing in coastal habitats.


Sea Sandwort, also known by its scientific name Honckenya peploides, is a small, succulent plant that grows in the intertidal zone of sandy beaches around the world. Despite its relatively small size, this plant plays a significant role in coastal ecosystems and has adapted to thrive in a challenging and ever-changing environment.

One of the most remarkable characteristics of Sea Sandwort is its ability to withstand the harsh conditions of the intertidal zone. This zone is the area between the high tide and low tide marks, and is characterized by constantly changing water levels, extreme temperatures, and exposure to salt spray. To survive in this environment, Sea Sandwort has developed a number of adaptations, including fleshy, succulent leaves that help it retain water, and a shallow root system that allows it to quickly absorb nutrients from the sandy soil.

Sea Sandwort also plays an important ecological role in the intertidal zone. It helps to stabilize the sandy substrate, preventing erosion and providing a habitat for a variety of other species, including insects, birds, and small mammals. The plant's small, white flowers also provide a source of nectar for bees and other pollinators.

In addition to its ecological significance, Sea Sandwort has also been used for a variety of medicinal and culinary purposes. In traditional Chinese medicine, the plant is believed to have diuretic and antidiarrheal properties and has been used to treat a variety of ailments. In Scandinavia, the plant is sometimes used as a food source and is considered a delicacy.

Despite its many benefits, Sea Sandwort is threatened by a number of factors, including habitat loss, climate change, and pollution. Conservation efforts are underway to protect this important species and ensure that it continues to thrive in the intertidal zone for years to come.

Sea Sandwort is a remarkable plant that has adapted to thrive in the challenging environment of the intertidal zone. Its ecological, medicinal, and culinary significance make it an important species to protect and preserve for future generations.

Sea Sandwort is a member of the Caryophyllaceae family, which includes a wide range of flowering plants that are adapted to harsh environments. The plant is typically only a few centimeters tall and has small, oval-shaped leaves that are covered in fine hairs. Its flowers are white and bloom in late spring and early summer.

The distribution of Sea Sandwort is widespread, and the plant is found in sandy beaches throughout the world, including in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. In some areas, Sea Sandwort is considered an invasive species, as it can outcompete native plants and disrupt the local ecosystem.

Sea Sandwort is a valuable species for research in plant physiology and ecology, as it is an excellent model organism for studying the effects of environmental stress on plant growth and development. Its ability to tolerate high levels of salinity, temperature extremes, and water stress make it an important species for understanding how plants adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Sea Sandwort is a fascinating plant that has adapted to thrive in one of the harshest environments on Earth. Its ecological, medicinal, and scientific significance make it an important species to study and protect. By understanding the biology of Sea Sandwort and the challenges it faces in the intertidal zone, we can gain valuable insights into the resilience and adaptability of life on our planet.

In addition to its ecological, medicinal, and scientific significance, Sea Sandwort has also been used in various cultural traditions and folklore. In Iceland, the plant is known as "Ströndungur" and is believed to protect against evil spirits and bring good luck to those who carry it. In some Scandinavian countries, it is also believed that Sea Sandwort can help to cure warts and other skin conditions.

Furthermore, the adaptability of Sea Sandwort has made it a promising candidate for use in sustainable agriculture and horticulture. The plant's ability to tolerate high levels of salinity and water stress has led to interest in using it for crop production in areas with high soil salinity, where other plants struggle to grow. Additionally, Sea Sandwort has been used in green roofs and other urban landscaping projects due to its low maintenance requirements and drought tolerance.

However, despite its potential uses, Sea Sandwort remains a vulnerable species due to habitat loss and degradation caused by human activities, such as coastal development and pollution. In order to ensure the continued survival of this valuable plant, it is essential to support conservation efforts that protect its habitat and promote sustainable land use practices.

In conclusion, Sea Sandwort is a remarkable plant that has adapted to thrive in one of the most challenging environments on the planet. Its ecological, medicinal, cultural, and potential agricultural significance make it a valuable species that deserves our attention and protection. By learning more about Sea Sandwort and working to conserve it, we can contribute to the preservation of our planet's biodiversity and the resilience of coastal ecosystems.


Sea Sandwort on the beach at Aldeburgh, Suffolk on the 27th June 2022.


Music credits
Guiton Sketch by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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Distribution Map

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