Common Glasswort

©Northeast Wildlife

Common Glasswort

Scientific name: Salicornia europaea
Sometimes called 'Marsh Samphire', wild Common Glasswort is often gathered and eaten. It grows on saltmarshes and beaches, sometimes forming big, green, fleshy carpets.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 30cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

Common Glasswort, also known as 'Marsh Samphire', grows in saltmarshes, and around beaches and coastal places across the UK. But it is in East Anglia where it is most well-known as a wild food - gathered and displayed alongside fish. Its succulent nature is what makes it so attractive to eat, but also makes it tolerant to the harsh conditions of the shore.
Its flowers appear from August to September.

How to identify

Common Glasswort can easily be confused with other glasswort plants (there are seven in total). Look for a yellowy-green, fleshy plant, a little like a cactus. The stems are roundish and snap easily, and the tiny, thin flowers point upwards.

Distribution

Found scattered around the UK's coasts.

Did you know?

The ashes of Common Glasswort were traditionally used to make glass and soap, hence the common name. This is because of the high salt concentration within the plant which stops it from losing water to the environment and enables it to live in such salty conditions.

How people can help

Gathering wild food can be a satisfying experience and provides a chance to learn about our native plants. However, if you do fancy giving it a go, remember that it is an offence to totally uproot a wild plant and please just take what you need, leaving some for the wild creatures, too. Don't eat anything you can't identify, either - it could make you very ill. To find out more about wild plants, both edible and not, why not come along to a Wildlife Trust event? From fungi forays to woodland walks, there's plenty of opportunities to learn more about your local patch.