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Sea Sandwort

This is an unlikely looking member of the Pink family, with succulent leaves which formed as a way of conserving water, while varieties of Pink in other locations enjoyed greater rainfall. It forms dense patches on sandy or shingly shores above the strand line, and is to be found all around the Scottish coasts including Machair of the Western isles.

The stems are low growing, turning upwards at the ends, with many pointed oval leaves stacked densely up the stem. Leaves grow in an opposite arrangement, are fleshy, glabrous and a rich green.

White flowers top the stems, each less than 1cm across with 5 narrow petals. The flower is symmetrical with 5 green sepals that are as long as or longer than the petals.  Stamens are many. Female and male flowers often grow on the same plant.

 Though it looks none too appetising this plant is edible and young shoots can be eaten raw or cooked. They contain high levels of Vitamin A and C, and are enjoyed in Iceland.

Its unusual scientific name derives from the 18th century German botanist, G A Honckeny.

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