The Temperate Database is in the process of being updated, with new records being added and old ones being checked and brought up to date where necessary. This record has not yet been checked and updated.
Common Name: Dwarf Glasswort
Salicornia bigelovii is an annual plant that can grow up to 0.30 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials.
The seed contains saponins[
Although poisonous, saponins also have a range of medicinal applications and many saponin-rich plants are used in herbalism (particularly as emetics, expectorants and febrifuges) or as sources of raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry. Saponins are also found in a number of common foods, such as many beans.
Saponins have a quite bitter flavour and are in general poorly absorbed by the human body, so most pass through without harm. They can be removed by carefully leaching in running water. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will also normally remove most of them. However, it is not advisable to eat large quantities of raw foods that contain saponins.
Saponins are much more toxic to many cold-blooded creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish and make them easy to catch[
Eastern N. America - Nova Scotia to Florida and Texas.
Salt marshes by the coast[
], often colonising new areas of mud flats through its prolific seed production[
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in many parts of the country. The plants native habitat will give some idea of its cultivation needs.
Recent research has shown this plant to have excellent potential as a commercial crop in arid and desert regions near the sea. It needs irrigation, which can sustainably be provided by using sea water.
Young leaves and stems - cooked or pickled[
The raw seed is inedible due to the presence of saponins, though these remain in the seed-meal when the oil is extracted[
The seed contains about 30% of an edible oil and 35% protein[
]. The oil is highly polyunsaturated and similar to safflower oil (Carthamnus tinctorius) in fatty-acid composition[
]. It has a pleasant nut-like flavour and a texture similar to olive oil[
The seed contains about 30% oil[
Seed - we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in situ as soon as it is ripe if this is possible, otherwise sow in spring.