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Crambe maritimaSea Kale

By Leanne Downs25 June 2019

Sea Kale or Crambe maritima is a native vegetable to the UK and was once a very popular edible, so much so that it became very difficult to find, but now it is abundant once more

Where can I find Sea Kale

Sea Kale grows in coastal areas of the UK and Europe, though it is rare in Northern Ireland. It grows in sand, shingle and rocky beach areas, above the tide line.

What time of year can I find Sea Kale

Various stages of growth are visible throughout the year but the younger edible shoots and leaves can be found from March to May, or a little later if you are lucky. The older leaves are available through most of the year. Its flowers, which are also edible, are available from May to June and the seeds from June to July. These are best when very new before they become too hard. The roots are available all year round but it is illegal to uproot a plant without permission from the landowner in the UK.

Sea Kale growing through single on the Kent coast

How to identify Sea Kale

Sea Kale is difficult to confuse with other species that grow in the same habitat. Its shoots are deep purple and its leaves become a pretty mid green blue colour. The leaves grow quite large and are reminiscent of typical cabbage, veiny and wavy with a squeaky, smooth texture.

The pea-like seed pods are pale green-yellow, turning pale yellow-brown, hard and dry with age. The flowers smell like honey and are white with four petals, appearing in clusters.

Uses for Sea Kale

All parts of Sea Kale are edible, though old seed pods are too hard to eat, as are very old leaves which require a lot of cooking to be eaten. Young shoots and leaves are delicious steamed and served in place of asparagus in dishes.

Sea Kale as far as the eye can see across this Kent beach

Leanne Downs

About Leanne Downs

Leanne Downs is the content editor for Thryve and works as an outdoor writer, blogger and photographer. She loves hiking, hillwalking and wild camping.

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