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Common Name: Glasswort
Salicornia europaea is an annual plant that can grow up to 0.30 metres tall.
It has edible and miscellaneous uses.
Coasts of western Europe, including Britain.
Coastal sands, mudflats and salt marshes, often near the low tide mark[
Prefers a rich organic soil with ample nitrogen and regular watering[
]. This species is little, if at all, cultivated and its exact requirements are not clearly understood[
]. It is not known if the plant will require periodic inundation by salty water to grow well[
]. Glasswort is difficult to grow in cultivation[
], it can succeed in gardens if sown as soon as the seed is ripe in the autumn in a well-drained soil[
A very variable plant both in size and the number of branches produced - a number of subspecies are recognised[
]. The best forms for food production are bushy plants up to 40cm tall with an upright habit that keeps the branches out of the mud[
]. The form sometimes classed as a distinct species (as S. ramosissima Woods.) has this habit and habitat and so is the best form for using in cultivation experiments[
]. When seeking seed for cultivation, try to collect from plants with this habit and also choose plants nearer the high tide mark that therefore receive less inundation[
The edible leaves are occasionally sold in local markets[
Young stems - raw or cooked as a potherb, added to soups etc[
]. The plant is at its best for eating in late summer[
]. The stems are very succulent, but have a thin woody core that is easily removed[
]. They are best harvested when about 15cm long, the top 10cm being used leaving the bottom 5cm to produce new shoots[
]. They require little cooking, just adding them to a soup for the last few minutes of cooking is sufficient[
]. The plant has a salty flavour[
] and makes a very pleasant raw nibble[
]. The young shoots can be pickled after first boiling them in their own salted water[
]. Rich in protein[
]. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize[
An edible oil is obtained from the seed. A high quality, it is similar to safflower oil (Carthamnus tinctoria)[
The ashes obtained from burning this plant are rich in potash and are used in making soap or glass[
]. The ashes can also be used as a soap.
Seed - best sown in situ as soon as ripe in a well-drained outdoor bed[