In this series we review the plants known as the Crucifers. { the four petals form a cross when they are open}. They are represented by some familiar vegetables such as the turnip, cabbage and radish. They are also represented by garden flowers such as Stock, Candytuft and Wallflower.

Here we review the Scurvy grass whose common name was derived rom its use against scurvy in times gone by, when it was taken on ships as a source of vitamin C during long voyages. Until the introduction of Citrus fruits to the UK, this plant was the main source of vitamin C in the diet.

Despite its common name it is not a grass nor is it related to the grasses.

Scurvygrass.  Cochlearia officinalis.

Image Courtesy of Karelji CC BY-SA 3.0 License.Cochlearia officinalis Prague 2012 2.jpg

It can be mistaken for the abundant Danish scurvygrass. Cochlearia Danica. However, this species is much smaller.

Image courtesy of Moelkuel  CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

Medicinal and culinary uses.

Apart from treating or to be more accurate the prevention of scurvy, mentioned above , the plant was used for its antiseptic qualities. It is also said to be stimulating, and have aperient, diuretic, antiscorbutic properties. The essential oil was thought to be beneficial in paralytic and rheumatic cases.

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Components of Scurvy grass.

Public domain wikipediaCochlearia officinalis - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-186.jpg

Description and Habitat.

Scurvygrass ,Cochlearia officinalis is a biennial/perennial  herbaceous plant which is hardy, growing to the height of up to 30 cm {one foot} it flowers from May until August and the seeds ripen from September. It is encountered in the coastal regions {and mountain} of western, northern and central Europe including the UK. 

The flowers are white and produced in abundance {though short-lived} I fined they are much prettier when viewed from a distance. The lower leaves are succulent and located close to the ground and may be green, red or even purplish. The white flowers are 8-15 mm across the petals are sometimes tinged with a mauve or purple colour. In the UK they grow on grassy cliffs, salt marshes and on coastal roadsides. The flowers sometimes appear in April, however, they are much more numerous from the month of May. They may be found in lesser numbers throughout the summer. The seed capsules are nearly globular with prominent valves on the midrib when dry, the plant as a whole has a unpleasant smell and a bitter, warm acrid taste, very pungent when fresh.

They can be mistaken for Danish Scurvygrass.