Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Glaux maritima - Sea-milkwort

Family: Myrsinaceae (Myrsine family) (Previously in Primulaceae) [E-flora]

"Glaux maritima is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in). It 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 Insects. The plant is self-fertile. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure."

"General: Perennial fleshy herb from a shallow rhizome, smooth and often glaucous throughout; stems ascending-erect, several, branched from below, 3-30 cm tall, leafy to the tip." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Habitat / Range Tideflats, coastal marshes and beaches, interior alkaline marshes and wet meadows in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common in coastal, NC and E BC, less frequent elsewhere; circumpolar, widespread in arctic and temperate NA; Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora]

Status: Native [E-flora]


Edible Uses

"In this family, sea-milkwort (Glaux maritima), a herbaceous perennial of saline coastal marshes and shores, and alkaline regions of the interior across Canada, has fleshy rhizomes which were formerly eaten by Indigenous Peoples of the central British Columbia coast, including Kwakwaka'wakw, Sechelt and Comox. The rhizomes were dug in the fall, or the plants sometimes marked, then harvested the following spring before they had sprouted. They were boiled in a kettle for a long time, then eaten with ooligan grease.They were said to make one feel sleepy and were usually eaten in the evening before bed. Eating too many made one feel sick (Boas, 1921; Turner, 1975)." [Turner, Kuhnlein]

"Sea milkwort grows on beaches just above the high-tide zone. The fleshy roots were eaten by the Kwakiutl. A woman would take note where the plants were growing and go back to the spot to dig the roots in the early spring before the plants had sprouted. They were washed, piled in a kettle above a layer of pebbles, covered with old mats, and allowed to boil for a long time. They were eaten dipped in oil. They were not eaten at feasts, only at family meals. They made one very sleepy, so they were usually eaten in the evenings. If one ate too many, he would get squeamish (Boas, 1921)." [Turner&Bell2]

Medicinal Uses

Propagation & Cultivation

"Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed it should be worthwhile trying an outdoor sowing in situ in mid spring. Division in spring. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring." [PFAF]

"Succeeds in most soils. Dislikes shade." [PFAF]


Page last modified on Saturday, September 18, 2021 11:10 PM