Sea Kale

A nationally rare plant with the capacity to grow on both shingle and sand.  

Sea Kale: the poor mans asparagus - Sea Kale (Crambe maritima) is quite a rare plant nationally but it grows here in Dorset. It is a seashore specialist and has the capacity to grow on both sand and especially, on shingle. As a result this plant is most likely to be encountered along the Fleet, especially towards the top and back of the Chesil beach.
This is a relative of the kale that is grown as a food crop and has large 'cabbage' leaves which are obvious for quite a long period of time but the flowers only come in late June through until August. It is a big, sprawling plant and is a member of the cabbage family, the cruciferae, which is quite obvious when you see it.
Once upon a time it was semi-cultivated. People would go out on to the shore where it was growing and heap up shingle around the growing plant to blanch the shoots which were later harvested and prepared like asparagus. The leaves were also cooked much as cultivated kale is today. Nowadays which practice is, of course, forbidden but sea kale is still available from specialist suppliers from specifically grown crops.


Species Detail
Common Name Sea Kale
Alternative Name
Scientific Name Crambe maritima
Family Cabbage Family Crucifereae
Species Reference blamey 096.6
Look For
ID Notes
Species Habitats
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Habitat Reference Relationship
C4: Coastal Shingle