Plant of the Week ~ Crambe maritima (Sea Kale)

Botanical art of Crambe maritima
Botanical art of Crambe maritima

It’s time for our plant of the week and this time we are taking a look at Crambe maritima (sea kale). This member of the Brassica family (Brassicaceae) is a perennial that can grow to 0.6 metres in height and spread. Though in the wild it grows in coastal habitats, it does not require these conditions in order to thrive.

Cultivation & Care

Crambe maritima in full bloom
Crambe maritima in full bloom

Sea kale enjoys soils that are moist in a sunny position, though once established it becomes very drought tolerant. Deep, sandy loam rich in nutrients is the optimal soil for its growth, but don’t worry if you do not have access to such soil conditions as it does well in most soils, so long as they are not too acidic.

Sea kale is a herbaceous perennial so expect its foliage to die back during the winter months. It is a spreading plant so division may be required if it grows a little too large for the spot you have it growing in. However, this is a great way to get more plants to give away or plant in a different area.

Edible Uses

Crambe maritima leaves up close
Crambe maritima leaves up close

Compassionate Roots can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.  Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally and when in doubt about eating a plant you have not eaten before.

  • Roots ~ Eaten boiled or roasted and are sweet and starchy.
  • Shoots ~ Eaten raw or cooked as you would asparagus. They are said to be crisp with a nutty flavour similar to hazelnuts.
  • Stems ~ Raw or cooked, these can be eaten by themselves or along with the leaves attached.
  • Leaves ~ Raw or cooked, though if eating raw the younger leaves are best as they become tougher and bitter as they mature. The leaves have a cabbage/kale flavour.
  • Flowers ~ Eaten raw or cooked they resemble broccoli albeit with smaller flower heads.

Other Uses

Up close and personal with the flowers of Crambe maritima
Up close and personal with the flowers of Crambe maritima
  • Great source of nectar for bees, parasitic wasps and butterflies
  • Dynamic accumulator
  • Maritime plant ~ Grows naturally in coastal habitats which suggests a great tolerance of maritime exposure.
  • Drought tolerant ~ With its large taproot, sea kale can become very drought tolerant once it has established, making it great for areas prone to dry spells.

Compassionate Roots can help you create a vibrant wildlife garden for you and your family to enjoy all year round. Contact us for more information.

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