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Common Scurvy Grass

A feature of sea-cliffs, salt-marshes and sandy banks around the Scottish coasts and on salted roadsides further inland this plant is one of 3 very similar species that grow in Scotland, the others being Danish Scurvy-Grass, which has ivy-shaped leaves and English Scurvy-Grass, which has flattened fruits.

The Common Scurvy-Grass variety has heart-shaped, almost circular basal leaves, about 15mm in length, on long stalks. Glabrous stems grow out low then curve upwards. Basal leaves spread out in a loose rosette, whereas higher up the stem leaves are narrower with a wavy or toothed edge and no leaf stalks.

Flowers grow on an elongated head, about 4-7 on a stem and are about 8-10mm in diameter. Usually white, occasionally tinged with lilac, they have 4 cruciform white petals and 4 green sepals positioned between the petals. 6 yellow stamens and 1 stigma above an ovary that ripens into a green globular seed pod 3-7mm across after petals and sepals have dropped. This splits open revealing 2 rows of egg-shaped reddish brown seeds.

This edible plant is rich in Vitamin C, and the leaves, as the name suggests, were once eaten to combat scurvy.

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