Crithmum maritimum L. - Samphire.
Taxonomic position.Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae Moris.); genus: Crithmum L.
Morphology and biology.Perennial plant. The whole plant is bare. Rhizome is thick, branchy at the top, polycephalous. Stem is straight or ascendant, 20-50 cm tall, round in cross-section, hollow, striated, somewhat branchy in the upper part. Leaves are light green, fleshy (succulent); lower ones are tripinnate, set on stalks widened at the base into the sheath. The other leaves have broad sheaths, membranous along the edge, with two short, obtuse auricles on top. Blades of these leaves are pinnatipartite, stalked, while the topmost ones are tripartite, sessile on the sheaths. Lobules of the upper leaves are all identical, linear-lanceolate, acute, a little hispid, angustate, 2.5-5 cm long and 5-6 mm wide. Umbels have 10-20 rays. Leaflets of the swathe are lanceolate, numerous, scarious along the edge, deflexed at the top. Leaflets of the involucel are also numerous and have a similar appearance. Denticles of the calyx are very short. Petals are about 1 mm long. Fruit are about 6 mm in diameter. Blossoms in July; bears fruit in August-September.
Distribution.Worldwide distribution, including the Eastern and Western Mediterranean regions. In the former USSR, the species is distributed throughout the European part (Crimea) and the Caucasus (Western Transcaucasia).
Ecology.On maritime stony slopes, rocks and sands along the seacoast.
Utilization and economic value.All parts of the plant contain essential oil. Its output depends on the time and site of collecting. Fruit usually yields 0.7-0.8% essential oil, while green parts yield 0.5-0.3%. Grassy parts of the plant may be used to produce soda.
References:Cherepanov, S.K. 1995. Plantae Vasculares Rossicae et Civitatum Collimitanearum (in limicis USSR olim). St. Petersburg, "Mir I Semia", 990 p. (in Russian).
Grossgheim, A.A. 1967. Flora of Caucasia. Vol. VII. Leningrad, Nauka, 311 p. (in Russian).
Shishkin, B.K., ed. 1950. Flora of the USSR. Vol. XVI. M.-L.: Publishing House of the USSR Academy of Sciences, p. 468-469. (in Russian).