poetry and prose about place

limits of the tide #5 – Samphire (Salicornia europaea L.)

with 16 comments

A beach-comber this time of year may easily over-look plants of Samphire (Salicornia europaea L.), also called Glasswort, Pigeon-foot, and Chicken-claws.  Unless it is plentiful, it becomes lost ‘in the green’ of other sea-shore plants.  The genus name, Salicornia, comes from the words sal meaning salt and cornu meaning horn.  These plants consist of a branched, succulent stem, apparently without leaves or flowers.  The leaves and tiny flowers are embedded in the stem.

Although Salicornia is typically a plant of coastal areaslike Sea-blite, it is also found far from the coast, in the vicinity of inland salt springs.

Samphire greens are salty, delicious as a salad ingredient, a pickle, or a pot-herb.



salt of the sea

               Samphire ( Salicornia europaea L.)


Salicornia smoulders

on a silica shore,

flute and fire


Glass pipes,

mainstem and branches,

pickle green


Light glimpsed

through crystalline,

transparent walls


Seawater, rarefied,


to a Samphire phial


Flask of salt-sap,

brine on the tongue

Always wanting more



©  Jane Tims  2012

1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

Written by jane tims

July 28, 2012 at 7:56 am

16 Responses

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  1. Another wonderful poem, Jane. This part made me almost taste the samphire:

    “Flask of salt-sap,

    brine on the tongue

    Always wanting more”

    I’m currently avoiding salt for health reasons, and anything salty always tastes like more. 🙂



    August 1, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    • Hi. I also have to be careful about salt, so just a nibble of any of these salty seaside plants is all I ever take. Jane


      jane tims

      August 1, 2012 at 8:12 pm

  2. Thanks for this! As always!



    July 31, 2012 at 11:57 am

  3. “Flute and fire” and “glass pipes”…lovely images in the poem, so full of taste and visuals. I really liked it. We picked Samphire Greens on the salt marshes in Albert County where I grew up. Great post.


    Carol Steel

    July 30, 2012 at 9:59 pm

  4. Really love this poem, Jane. Thank you for sharing your talent.


    Jane Fritz

    July 29, 2012 at 9:21 am

  5. There’s no chance of finding them around here… we have about the most acid soil there is. But so glad to know about things that are beyond my experience.



    July 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    • Hi Merrill. You’d love a walk along the sea-shore… so many plants in one area. Jane


      jane tims

      July 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      • Jane, you have no idea how much I miss the ocean. I grew up near the shore, I was brought up with fish almost every night. The air, the light, the soil, the plants, the entire environemtn is so different here… I’m like a fish out of water…. I wanted to move to the north coast of Maine, but John felt it was too cold for him…he was suffering from heart disease. So your posts are living my dream vicariously. Many thanks.



        July 28, 2012 at 9:02 pm

      • Hi. I feel the need to visit the ocean at least once during the summer, and I am fortunate to live within an hour’s driving, so I can go more often. When we were teenagers, we spent many hours at the beaches near Halifax. I have a post about sea-lavender coming up, so stay tuned!!! Jane


        jane tims

        July 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm

  6. So nice! I love learning about new plants.



    July 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    • Hi. I learn from your posts too. I learned about Samphire for the first time during visits to Grand Manan in the 80’s. Jane


      jane tims

      July 28, 2012 at 8:40 pm

  7. Lovely post Jane! Brought back some memories, too. I was brought up in the Lincolnshire fens and my father and I used to cycle down to the marshes and collect samphire. I think he used to boil it and sprinkle on vinegar. I enjoyed it.



    July 28, 2012 at 8:39 am

    • Hi. A plant shared between our coasts! I have only ever eaten it raw… it is salty and crunchy. Thanks! Jane


      jane tims

      July 28, 2012 at 8:38 pm

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