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Crambe maritima - L.

Common Name Sea Kale
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Coastal sands, shingle, rocks and cliffs near the sea, often on the drift line[17].
Range Atlantic coast of Europe, including Britain, along the Baltic coast and around the Black Sea.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Crambe maritima Sea Kale

Crambe maritima Sea Kale
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:StenCrambe orientalis


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Crambe maritima is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies. The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Ground Cover; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Root  Shoots
Edible Uses:

Young leaves - raw or cooked like spinach[9, 12, 37, 52, 183]. They have a pleasant almost nutty flavour and go well in a mixed salad[K]. They also make a very pleasant cooked vegetable[K]. Older leaves develop a bitterness and are not so pleasant[K]. Young shoots - raw or cooked[2, 5, 37, 46, 183]. Available in the spring, they have a delicate nutty flavour with a crisp texture[200, 264]. The shoots are usually blanched and can be cooked like asparagus[9, 183]. When properly cooked they retain their crispness and have a very agreeable flavour, somewhat like hazelnuts but with a slight bitterness[183]. Root - cooked. Rich in starch and sugars[74]. Young flower buds - raw or cooked[264]. The flowering shoots are harvested when about 10 - 15cm long and before the flowers have opened. Used like sprouting broccoli, they are quite nice raw and delicious when lightly steamed[K].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future 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.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Plants can be used for ground cover when spaced about 60cm apart each way[208].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Food Forest  Ground cover

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

An easily grown plant, succeeding in a good loam and an open sunny position[1, 111, 200] but also tolerating some shade[188]. Prefers a slightly alkaline soil in a position sheltered from strong winds[200] (this report totally conflicts with the plants native habitat which is on sea shores - we have found this species to be very tolerant of strong maritime winds though it does not like cold northerlies much[K]). Tolerates poor soil and some shade[200]. Dislikes acid[1] and very stiff soils[37]. Prefers a rich , well-drained very deep sandy loam and a pH of 7[104, 264]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[190]. This species is hardy to about -20°c[187], it grows best in a cool maritime climate[200]. Seakale is sometimes cultivated for its edible young shoots in the spring which are blanched by excluding light in order to make them less bitter[61, 264]. Two or three crops can usually be harvested each year[264]. There are some named varieties[183]. The roots are sometimes brought into a greenhouse in the winter and grown on there in order to produce an early crop of shoots[183]. A deep-rooted and very long-lived plant[233, 264], it dislikes root disturbance[164]. The seed is dispersed by seawater, on which it can float for several days without loss of viability[17]. A good bee plant[115]. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 9 through 6. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a clumper with limited spread [1-2]. The root pattern is a tap root similar to a carrot going directly down [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow March/April in a seedbed outdoors and either thin the plants out or move them to their permanent positions when about 10cm tall[111]. Plants can be cropped once they are more than 12 months old[264]. The young plants are very attractive to slugs so some protection will often be needed. Germination can be slow so it is best to sow the seed in pots in a cold frame[164]. Germination usually takes place in 3 - 26 weeks at 15°c[164]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out into their permanent positions when they are at least 10cm tall. Division in spring or autumn[1, 111]. Dig up the root clump and cut off as many sections as you require, making sure they all have at least one growing point. The larger of these divisions can be planted out straight into their permanent positions, though small ones are best potted up and grown on in a cold frame until they are established. Root cuttings, 3 - 10 cm long, in spring[104]. These can be planted straight into the open ground or you can pot them up in the greenhouse and plant them out once they are growing strongly.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Crambe abyssinicaAbyssinian Kale, CrambeAnnual1.0 10-12  LMHSNM104
Crambe cordifoliaFlowering sea kalePerennial2.0 5-9  LMHSNDM313
Crambe kotschyana Perennial2.5 6-9  LMHSNDM21 
Crambe orientalis Perennial1.2 6-9  LMHSNM30 
Crambe tataricaTartar Bread PlantPerennial1.0 4-8  LMHSNM302
Theligonum cynocrambeDog's CabbageAnnual0.1 -  LMHSNDM11 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Richard Clark   Fri Dec 29 15:59:12 2000

How do you spell 'tollerate'? I'd say 'tolerate' with one 'l'.

Growers in northeast United States describing their experience with sea kale.   Aug 31 2011 12:00AM

Unlike Ken Fern in the notes on edibility above, I have found the older, larger leaves less bitter and more palatable than the younger, smaller leaves. Indeed, the older leaves I've sampled from my plants have no bitterness at all. Mind you, these aren't the oldest leaves on the plants, nor are the young leaves terribly bitter. I find them delicious and highly recommend this as a perennial green. Another nice feature, in my experience, is that my sea kale plants appear to be completely immune to the cabbage moths that have been pests on my annual cole crops, such as head cabbage, lacinato "dinosaur" kale, and broccoli.
Apios Institute

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