Herb: Sea Orach

Latin name: Atriplex halimus

Family: Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)

Medicinal use of Sea Orach:

The shoots are burnt to produce an antacid powder.

Description of the plant:


2 m
(6 1/2 foot)


Habitat of the herb:

Coastal sands by the sea. Saltmarshes.

Edible parts of Sea Orach:

Leaves - raw or cooked. Some forms are eaten raw. A famine food according to one report, but in our opinion it is far from being a famine food, in fact this is one of the more popular crops being grown at "The Field" at present (1993). The leaves have a very nice rather salty flavour, they go well in salads or can be cooked like spinach. When lightly steamed, the leaves retain their crispness and are a delicious spinach substitute. The leaves retain their salty flavour even when grow inland in non-salty soils. The leaves can be used at any time of the year though winter harvesting must be light because the plant is not growing much at this time. Seed - cooked. It can be ground into a meal and used as a thickener in soups, or mixed with cereals in making bread. The seed is small and fiddly. The plant is said to yield an edible manna.

Other uses of the herb:

The ash from the burnt plant is used as the alkali in making soap. The plant makes a superb wind-resistant low-growing hedge that can be allowed to grow untrimmed or can be trimmed. It is especially valuable in maritime areas, succeeding right on the coast, though can also be used inland. The plant is extremely tolerant of pruning and can regrow even when cut back into old wood. The plant draws salt out of the soil and so has been used in soil-reclamation projects to de-salinate the soil.

Propagation of Sea Orach:

Seed - sow April/May in a cold frame in a compost of peat and sand. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 weeks at 13C. Pot up the seedlings when still small into individual pots, grow on in a greenhouse for the first winter and plant out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. The seed is seldom formed. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Very easy. Pot up as soon as they start to root (about 3 weeks) and plant out in their permanent positions late in the following spring. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, November/December in a frame. Very easy. Pot up in early spring and plant out in their permanent position in early summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Coastal sands by the sea. Saltmarshes.

Known hazards of Atriplex halimus:

No member of this genus contains any toxins, all have more or less edible leaves. However, if grown with artificial fertilizers, they may concentrate harmful amounts of nitrates in their leaves.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.