Rock samphire (Crithmum maritimum)
Jaimie Sweetman is Head Gardener of the Edible Forest located on the Yarra Valley Estate in Dixons Creek. Tours of the Edible Forest, often led by Jaimie, take place on Fridays and Saturdays – read more and book your place on a future tour.
Rock samphire is a favourite in the Edible Forest and really easy to grow.
Another name is sea fennel because its leaves look a bit like coral and its flowers are similar to fennel, belonging to the same family Apiaceae.
Originating from the coast lines of the Black Sea and western Europe, it grows well in coastal conditions, although it will also do just fine in any garden that has good drainage. It does not handle having wet feet at all!
Extremely drought tolerant and enjoying full sun to part shade, it’s a good choice for most Melbourne gardens.
The young leaves are harvested and eaten raw in salads, etc. It also works really well pickled to preserve for later or added to other vegetable pickles for flavour. It’s a bit hit and miss with taste as it tastes healthy! A bit like parsley and carrot combined.
It’s high in Vitamin C and was actually sometimes used to prevent scurvy on long boat trips.
Apparently it grows from seed well although, so far, I haven’t had much success. Rather, we grow ours from dividing the new runners once they have roots. These are available in our nursery on and off.
I have never quite understood why it’s not more readily available in nurseries but perhaps we will see it more often due to its more recent appearances in MasterChef. Fingers crossed!
In summary, a striking little plant for the garden, full of antioxidants and providing nutrients all year around.