protect the plants in cold weather ... and make sure you collect some seed just in case. I’d never successfully grown this plant; even in summer it just seems to stagnate as it’s too cold and I have nothing like a southward facing sea wall to satisfy it. However, in 2012 I grew it successfully inside and was able to harvest it at Christmastime. I adapted a recipe I found on the Celtnet Recipes website for ‘rock samphire hash’ (see box). At present both plants and seed are available in Europe, but are less commonly offered in the US. Like other umbellifers, seed quickly loses its viability, so source fresh seed if possible. I’ve several times found seed in winter in various parts of the plant’s range. Division can also propagate it and root cuttings are probably also possible. In the south of its range, it is recommended to sow seed in autumn. Germination is then relatively quick and the seedlings will need to stand over winter and may need protecting, as they are sensitive to subzero temperatures. In colder areas, sowing in late winter outside is the best strategy. Plants should be cut back hard to maintain a compact growth form and plentiful new leaves. Where rock samphire thrives, it will self-sow. In recent years, this plant is one of the halophytic (salttolerant) plants being studied for biosaline agriculture
Improvised Malvik Rock Samphire Hash Combine rock samphire, olives, cucumber and a few capers. Mix a little vegetable stock (I used bean cooking water), a little vinegar, garlic and chilli, lemon zest and juice with black pepper and nutmeg and bring to the boil. Add the samphire mix and simmer for half an hour. Whisk up an egg yolk and gradually add with slivers of butter, stirring until the mixture has thickened.
4 & 5: Rock samphire in the Chelsea Physic Garden, London (left) and in a naturalistic setting in Kew Gardens, London (right).
4 | Around the World in 80 Plants