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Common Name: Glasswort
Salicornia europaea 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.
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[