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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!

16 December, 2016

Sea Rocket: shore fire

Surely one of the most inhospitable habitats for a plant to survive in is the sand on a beach. There is no firm soil here to put your roots down into to get stability and moisture, just fine, loose granules of fine rock. Despite this the sea rocket (Cakile maratima) manages to grow in these conditions quite successfully and can be found on sandy, not shingle, beaches above the high water line.
Rockets are usually members of the cabbage or crucifereae family having four petals in the shape of a cross. The sea rocket is a member of this family and has the right form of flower but the plant itself is much more fleshy than its cousins and this enables it to store what little moisture it can glean. It is a rather floppy plant with several flowering stems and produces flowers in July and August which can be various shades of lilac from very pale to quite dark.
The seeds have a fiery flavour but it is a strange plant chemically with the seeds in particular containing erucic acid which can induce heart failure in some animals and yet appears to be beneficial to humans as it can be found in rapeseed oil used as a modern replacement for butter and margarine.
Sea Rocket: shore fire