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Rock Sea-spurrey

Spergularia rupicola

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
10 centimetres tall
Beaches, gardens, rocky places, saltmarshes, sand dunes, sea cliffs, seaside, walls.

Pink, 5 petals
5 pink petals. Unlike most other sea-spurries, flowers are missing a white centre. Sepals are the same length as the petals.
A capsule, up to 7mm long.
Linear, thread-like leaves, up to 2cm long. The leaves are in opposite pairs and they have scale-like stipules.
Other Names:
Cliff Spurrey, Rock Sand-spurrey.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Spergularia rupicola, also known as "rock sand-spurrey" or "cliff spurrey" is a species of flowering plant in the Caryophyllaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and it is a annual or perennial herbaceous plant. It has small, linear leaves and produces small white or pink flowers. It prefers rocky soils and it is tolerant to drought and salt conditions, it can be found in rocky coastal areas and cliffs, it can be also used as a ornamental plant in rock gardens, and coastal gardens. It is also known for its medicinal properties, it has been traditionally used for wound healing and for treating respiratory conditions.


Rock Sea-spurrey, or Spergularia rupicola, is a low-growing perennial plant that is native to rocky shores and cliffs in Europe. It belongs to the Caryophyllaceae family and is often found in harsh, saline environments where few other plants can survive. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at the characteristics of Rock Sea-spurrey, as well as its uses and cultural significance.

Physical Description

Rock Sea-spurrey typically grows to a height of 5-10 cm, and forms a dense mat of prostrate stems that spread out over the ground. The leaves are small, linear, and fleshy, and are often a blue-green color. The flowers are pink to white, and are small and inconspicuous, with five petals that are deeply notched at the tip. The flowering period typically occurs from June to August, with individual flowers lasting only a few days.

Habitat and Distribution

Rock Sea-spurrey is found in rocky, coastal habitats throughout Europe, and is especially common in the Mediterranean region. It can grow on a variety of substrates, including limestone, sandstone, and granite, and is tolerant of salty spray and wind exposure. Because of its adaptability to harsh environments, Rock Sea-spurrey is often used in landscaping for rock gardens, coastal gardens, and green roofs.

Cultural Significance

In some cultures, Rock Sea-spurrey is used for medicinal purposes. The plant has been traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments, including diarrhea, coughs, and bronchitis. In addition, the plant is believed to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and is used topically to treat wounds and skin conditions.

Rock Sea-spurrey also has cultural significance as a symbol of resilience and perseverance. Its ability to thrive in inhospitable environments has made it a popular subject in art and literature, where it is often used as a metaphor for the human spirit.


Although Rock Sea-spurrey is not currently considered a threatened species, its habitat is under threat from human activity such as coastal development, pollution, and erosion. As a result, efforts are being made to protect and conserve this species and its habitat, including the establishment of protected areas and the promotion of sustainable land use practices.

Rock Sea-spurrey is a fascinating plant with a unique set of adaptations that enable it to thrive in challenging environments. Its cultural significance and medicinal properties make it an important species in many parts of the world, and efforts to protect its habitat are important for preserving the biodiversity of coastal ecosystems.


In addition to its medicinal uses, Rock Sea-spurrey is also used for culinary purposes. The plant has a slightly salty and bitter taste, and its leaves and young shoots can be used as a seasoning in salads, soups, and stews. In some regions, the plant is also used to flavor traditional dishes such as omelets and pies.

Rock Sea-spurrey is also a popular ornamental plant, especially in rock gardens and coastal landscapes. Its low-growing habit and tolerance of harsh environments make it an ideal choice for landscaping in areas where other plants may struggle to survive.


Rock Sea-spurrey is easy to grow and maintain, and can be propagated from seed or cuttings. The plant prefers well-drained soil and a sunny location, and is tolerant of drought and salty conditions. It is also resistant to pests and diseases, making it a low-maintenance choice for gardeners.

When grown for culinary purposes, Rock Sea-spurrey should be harvested in the spring or early summer, when the leaves are young and tender. The plant should be harvested in moderation, as overharvesting can damage the plant and reduce its ability to survive in harsh environments.

Rock Sea-spurrey is a fascinating plant with a variety of uses and cultural significance. Its ability to thrive in inhospitable environments makes it an important species for preserving coastal ecosystems, and its medicinal and culinary uses make it a valuable resource for human communities. Whether grown for ornamental or practical purposes, Rock Sea-spurrey is a unique and versatile plant that deserves our attention and appreciation.

Ecological Importance

Rock Sea-spurrey plays an important role in coastal ecosystems, where it helps to stabilize rocky shorelines and prevent erosion. The plant's extensive root system helps to bind soil and prevent sediment from being washed away by waves and tides. In addition, the plant provides habitat and food for a variety of insects, birds, and other wildlife.

Rock Sea-spurrey is also important for its ability to tolerate and even thrive in salty environments. As salt levels in soil and water increase due to factors such as rising sea levels and climate change, the ability of plants like Rock Sea-spurrey to adapt and survive becomes increasingly important for the maintenance of healthy coastal ecosystems.

Research has also shown that Rock Sea-spurrey can help to remove pollutants from soil and water, making it a valuable tool for environmental remediation in polluted coastal areas.


Overall, Rock Sea-spurrey is a unique and valuable plant with a variety of uses and ecological functions. Its ability to thrive in harsh environments makes it an important species for preserving coastal ecosystems, and its cultural and medicinal significance make it a valuable resource for human communities. By protecting and conserving this species and its habitat, we can help to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for our coastal environments.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map