Herb: Rock Samphire

Latin name: Crithmum maritimum

Synonyms: Cachrys maritima

Family: Umbelliferae

Medicinal use of Rock Samphire:

Rock samphire is little used in herbal medicine, though it is a good diuretic and holds out potential as a treatment for obesity. It has a high vitamin C and mineral content and is thought to relieve flatulence and to act as a digestive remedy. The young growing tips are carminative, depurative, digestive and diuretic. They are gathered when in active growth in the spring and used fresh. The leaves have the reputation for helping people lose weight and so are used in treating cases of obesity as well kidney complaints and sluggishness. The essential oil is a digestive, a few drops being sprinkled on the food.

Description of the plant:


25 cm
(9 3/4 inch)

June to


Habitat of the herb:

On cliffs and rocks, or more rarely on shingle or sand, by the sea.

Edible parts of Rock Samphire:

Leaves - raw or cooked. Vaguely reminiscent of fennel, but the taste is more bitter and brackish. A powerful salty flavour, it has been described by one person as tasting like "a mixture of celery and kerosene". The leaves are used as a flavouring in salads etc. Gathered in spring, the young leaves when sprinkled with salt and boiled make a very good pickle. The leaves are rich in vitamin C. Seed pods. They are used to make a warm aromatic pickle.

Other uses of the herb:

An essential oil from the plant is used in perfumery.

Propagation of Rock Samphire:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Sow in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 3 - 6 weeks at 15C. One report says that the seed only has a short viability and should be sown as soon as it is ripe, but it has germinated well with us when sown in April in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer. Division in spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

On cliffs and rocks, or more rarely on shingle or sand, by the sea.

Known hazards of Crithmum maritimum:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.