Salicornia europaea

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Salicornia europaea
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Amaranthaceae
Genus: Salicornia
S. europaea
Binomial name
Salicornia europaea
    • Salicornia annua Sm.
    • Salicornia appressa Dumort.
    • Salicornia biennis Afzel. ex Sm.
    • Salicornia europaea subsp. brachystachya (G.Mey.) R.Dahmen & Wissk.
    • Salicornia europaea var. herbacea L.
    • Salicornia europaea var. pachystachya (W.D.J.Koch) Fernald
    • Salicornia gracillima Moss
    • Salicornia herbacea (L.) L.
    • Salicornia herbacea var. annua (Sm.) Pursh
    • Salicornia herbacea var. pachystachya W.D.J.Koch
    • Salicornia herbacea var. ramosissima Hook.f.
    • Salicornia intermedia J.Woods
    • Salicornia megastachya J.Woods
    • Salicornia peregrina Weinm. ex Ung.-Sternb.
    • Salicornia radicans Mert. & W.D.J.Koch
    • Salicornia ramosissima (Hook.f.) J.Woods ex W.A.Clarke & E.S.Marshall
    • Salicornia salsola Montbret ex Ung.-Sternb.
    • Salicornia simonkaiana Soó
    • Salicornia smithiana Moss

Salicornia europaea, known as marsh samphire,[2] common glasswort[3] or just glasswort, is a halophytic annual dicot flowering plant in the family Amaranthaceae. Glasswort is a succulent herb also known as "pickle weed" or "marsh samphire". As a succulent, it has high water content, which accounts for its slightly translucent look and gives it the descriptive name "glasswort". To some people, it is known as "chicken toe" because of its shape. To others, it is called "saltwort".[4] It grows in various zones of intertidal salt marshes, on beaches, and among mangroves.[5]


Habitat on the bank of the Étang d'Ingril, Hérault, France
Salicornia europaea (autumn), Lake Notoro, Abashiri, Hokkaido, Japan
Salicornia europaea in Baku, Azerbaijan

Glasswort plants are relatively small and have jointed, bright green stems. During the fall, these plants turn red or purple. Their leaves are small and scale like, and they produce fleshy fruits that contain a single seed.[6]

Like most members of the subfamily Salicornioideae, Salicornia species use the C3 carbon fixation pathway to take in carbon dioxide from the surrounding atmosphere.[7]


Salicornia prefers a light, sandy soil (or a well-drained soil) and a sunny position. Samphire can be planted out once the danger of frosts is past. Salicornia is best watered with a saline solution of 1 teaspoon of sea salt in 1 imp pt (0.57 L) of water.[8] Salicornia grow best in 200 mM NaCl.[9]

In the Northern Hemisphere, the harvesting of samphire shoots takes place from June to August. After that time shoots will become woody. Treat samphire as a slow-growing cut-and-come-again crop and leave a month between each cut.[8]


The ashes of glasswort and saltwort plants (barilla) and of kelp were long used as a source of soda ash (mainly sodium carbonate) for glassmaking and soapmaking.[10] The introduction of the Leblanc process for the industrial production of soda ash in the first half of the 19th century superseded the use of plant sources.[citation needed]


S. europaea is edible, either cooked or raw.[6] In the UK, it is one of several plants known as samphire; the term is believed to be a corruption of the French name, herbe de Saint-Pierre, which means "St. Peter's herb".[11]

Samphire is usually cooked, then coated in butter or olive oil. Due to its high salt content, it must be cooked without any salt added, in plenty of water. After cooking, it resembles seaweed in colour, and the flavour and texture are like young spinach stems, asparagus, or artichoke. Samphire is often used as a suitably maritime accompaniment to fish or seafood.[12]

Pharmacological research[edit]

In South Korea, Phyto Corporation has developed a technology of extracting low-sodium salt from Salicornia europaea, a salt-accumulating plant. The company claims the naturally-derived plant salt is effective in treating high blood pressure and fatty liver disease by reducing sodium intake.[13] The company has also developed a desalted Salicornia powder containing antioxidative and antithrombus polyphenols, claimed to be effective in treating obesity and arteriosclerosis, as well as providing a means to help resolve global food shortages.[14]

Environmental uses[edit]

Salicornia europaea is a new candidate plant species for using in effective phytoremediation of cadmium-contaminated saline soils.[15]


  1. ^ "Salicornia europaea L." Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 14 March 2022.
  2. ^ David Chapman (2008). Exploring the Cornish Coast. Penzance: Alison Hodge. p. 79. ISBN 9780906720561.
  3. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  4. ^ "Glasswort a tasty treat". 29 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Glasswort-(Salicornia europaea)". 8 October 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Salicornia europaea", page of the Plants for a Future website. Retrieved July 14, 2007.
  7. ^ Kadereit, G.; Borsch, T.; Weising, K.; Freitag, H. (2003). "Phylogeny of Amaranthaceae and Chenopodiaceae and the evolution of C4 photosynthesis". International Journal of Plant Sciences. 164 (6): 959–86. doi:10.1086/378649. S2CID 83564261.
  8. ^ a b "How To Sow & Grow Samphire".
  9. ^ Komaresofla, Behzad Razzaghi; Alikhani, Hossein Ali; Etesami, Hassan; Khoshkholgh-Sima, Nayer Azam (June 2019). "Improved growth and salinity tolerance of the halophyte Salicornia sp. by co–inoculation with endophytic and rhizosphere bacteria". Applied Soil Ecology. 138: 160–170. doi:10.1016/j.apsoil.2019.02.022. S2CID 92401027.
  10. ^ Govantes-Edwards, David J.; Duckworth, Chloë N.; Córdoba, Ricardo (2016). "Recipes and experimentation? The transmission of glassmaking techniques in Medieval Iberia". Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies. 8 (2): 176–195. doi:10.1080/17546559.2016.1209779. S2CID 163514723.
  11. ^ Davidson, Alan (2002). The Penguin Companion To Food (Penguin), p. 828. ISBN 978-0-14-200163-9. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, Completely Revised and Updated (Scribner, New York), p. 317. ISBN 978-0-684-80001-1.
  12. ^ "Food ingredients". BBC.
  13. ^ Panth, Nisha; Park, Sin-Hee; Kim, Hyun; Kim, Deuk-Hoi; Oak, Min-Ho (2016). "Protective Effect of Salicornia europaea Extracts on High Salt Intake-Induced Vascular Dysfunction and Hypertension". International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 17 (7): 1176. doi:10.3390/ijms17071176. PMC 4964547. PMID 27455235.
  14. ^ Rahman, Md. Mahbubur; Kim, Myung-Jin; Kim, Jin-Hyoung; Kim, Sok-Ho; Go, Hyeon-Kyu; Kweon, Mee-Hyang; Kim, Do-Hyung (2018). "Desalted Salicornia europaea powder and its active constituent, trans-ferulic acid, exert anti-obesity effects by suppressing adipogenic-related factors". Pharmaceutical Biology. 56 (1): 183–191. doi:10.1080/13880209.2018.1436073. PMC 6130585. PMID 29521146.
  15. ^ Ozawa, T.; Miura, M.; Fukuda, M.; Kakuta, S. (2009). "Cadmium tolerance and accumulation in a halophyte Salicornia europaea as a new candidate for phytoremediation of saline soils". Scientific Report of the Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Osaka Prefecture University. 60: 1–8.