What is the sea cress and where to find it

The sea cress is native to the Azores islands

Have you heard of the maritime cress? Maybe yes, but with another name, since it has many. Perhaps you have even seen it on occasion or other. This plant with small flowers grows in Mediterranean areas and is used to decorate parks and gardens.

If you want to know more about this beautiful plant, I recommend that you continue reading. we will explain what is the sea cress, where to find it and we will discuss a curious story related to it.

What is the sea cress?

Sea cress is a natural diuretic

When we talk about the sea cress, we refer to the plant lobularia maritima o Alyssum maritimum. It is a plant species that is part of the family of brassicas. There are many common names that it obtains, eg Alyssum or sea alder due to its previous classification, sessile alder, lady's broquelets, white beard, silver broquelets, wide broquelets, white grass, cress, honey flower, marine cress, milk foam and always in flower.

This vegetable with many names is a perennial plant that It lives in areas with warm climates. It is usually between four and thirty centimeters high and slightly lignified at the base. The leaves are oval and small, with a length ranging from one to four centimeters and a width of three to five millimeters. They have a slight whitish tone that is due to the fact that they are covered with very short and finite hairs.

As for the inflorescence of the sea cress, it is usually made up of many small purple or white flowers, depending on the variety. Each of them has four petals. One of the main characteristics of this plant is that its flowers give off a fragrance throughout the development season (or throughout the year in areas where there is no frost in winter). reminiscent of honey. It should be noted that, as the flowers fertilize and open, the inflorescences lengthen.

cultivation and distribution

The sea cress is native to Macaronesia, which would be the Azores and the Canary Islands, and the Mediterranean region. We can find these vegetables and their precious flowers in a wide range of habitats. They proliferate perfectly in coastal areas as well as in the high mountains. In the Iberian Peninsula, for example, the sea cress is found in the highest areas of the Sierra Nevada. Besides, this species has been gaining ground in more temperate regions as well.

At a more domestic level, to decorate gardens or parks, the sea cress is generally used as upholstery or as a rockery plant. It is great for this, since its seeds germinate very easily and it is not a very tall vegetable. When planting it, we must do it in early spring. Once it has begun to develop, the care we must provide is minimal. To achieve a more powerful flowering, it is best to eliminate faded flowers. Regarding the location, the sea cress prefers to be in full sun. However, it can tolerate semi-shade. It should be noted that it is a very resistant plant to both heat and drought.

It should also be noted that the sea cress is used in herbalism. there they use it as a natural diuretic, since it turns out to be helpful when it comes to eliminating kidney stones.

Curious story about the maritime cress

The sea cress was discovered by the English botanist Nicholas Culpeper

It was in the year 1649 that Nicholas Culpeper, an English botanist, first discovered the sea cress. This vegetable is native to the Azores islands, and it was there that its discoverer took a specimen to carry out various tests and determine its medicinal uses. And he was successful. Nicholas Culpeper discovered that this plant had the ability to alleviate a fairly common problem: kidney stones. Since then, the British always carried a copy of this plant on their sea voyages. Kidney stones were very common on long boat voyages. This is because the diets on board were very high in sodium. However, the British realized that the vegetable was dying. At a stop in the Columbretes Islands, he decided to plant it on land.

Centuries later, in 1762, another French botanist made a stop on these islands to repair the ship he was traveling on. There he realized that the sea cress had mutated, it was no longer the same. This mutation must have been carried out to adapt to the climate of the Columbretes Islands. He named this new species Lobularia maritima columbretensis. After conducting a geomorphological study of the terrain, he came to the conclusion that this variety would only grow on those islands. Even today this vegetable continues to coexist with the sea cress.

It never ceases to amaze how flexible and intelligent nature can be. Seeing how various species, both plant and animal, are able to adapt to conditions and evolve, is truly incredible.

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