Crambe maritima Brassicaceae Sea Kale

Picture 1 Picture 2 Fruits Distribution

Crambe maritima 39kb

Description - Growing in large clumps, leaves grey-green, with purple leaf stalks, hairless and deeply-cut with curly margins. Clusters of white flowers occur in summer. These are sweet-smelling and attract many insects. They are followed by seed-heads of globular seeds, contained in a woody seed-case, thought to distribute the seeds by floating in the sea. Plants are perennial, thus the stems become rather woody.

Habitat - At the top of the beach, in shingle or pebbles.

Comment - Sea Kale was widely grown in the past for the table and still is by its fans. The young shoots are blanched and have a delicate flavour, either eaten raw, or quickly steamed and buttered. It is rather rare in Guernsey, partly owing to reduction of its habitat, but appears to be increasing; there are about eleven sites at present. It is declining in Britain, mainly because of sea-defence work.

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