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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

02 August, 2016

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.
Sea Kale: the poor mans asparagus