Crambe maritima - L.
Common Name Sea Kale
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Coastal sands, shingle, rocks and cliffs near the sea, often on the drift line[17].
Range Atlantic coast of Europe, including Britain, along the Baltic coast and around the Black Sea.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

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Crambe maritima Sea Kale
Crambe maritima Sea Kale orientalis
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Crambe maritima is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, self.The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.


 Ground Cover; Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Young leaves - raw or cooked like spinach[9, 12, 37, 52, 183]. They have a pleasant almost nutty flavour and go well in a mixed salad[K]. They also make a very pleasant cooked vegetable[K]. Older leaves develop a bitterness and are not so pleasant[K]. Young shoots - raw or cooked[2, 5, 37, 46, 183]. Available in the spring, they have a delicate nutty flavour with a crisp texture[200, 264]. The shoots are usually blanched and can be cooked like asparagus[9, 183]. When properly cooked they retain their crispness and have a very agreeable flavour, somewhat like hazelnuts but with a slight bitterness[183]. Root - cooked. Rich in starch and sugars[74]. Young flower buds - raw or cooked[264]. The flowering shoots are harvested when about 10 - 15cm long and before the flowers have opened. Used like sprouting broccoli, they are quite nice raw and delicious when lightly steamed[K].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known


Other Uses
Plants can be used for ground cover when spaced about 60cm apart each way[208].
Cultivation details
An easily grown plant, succeeding in a good loam and an open sunny position[1, 111, 200] but also tolerating some shade[188]. Prefers a slightly alkaline soil in a position sheltered from strong winds[200] (this report totally conflicts with the plants native habitat which is on sea shores - we have found this species to be very tolerant of strong maritime winds though it does not like cold northerlies much[K]). Tolerates poor soil and some shade[200]. Dislikes acid[1] and very stiff soils[37]. Prefers a rich , well-drained very deep sandy loam and a pH of 7[104, 264]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[190]. This species is hardy to about -20°c[187], it grows best in a cool maritime climate[200]. Seakale is sometimes cultivated for its edible young shoots in the spring which are blanched by excluding light in order to make them less bitter[61, 264]. Two or three crops can usually be harvested each year[264]. There are some named varieties[183]. The roots are sometimes brought into a greenhouse in the winter and grown on there in order to produce an early crop of shoots[183]. A deep-rooted and very long-lived plant[233, 264], it dislikes root disturbance[164]. The seed is dispersed by seawater, on which it can float for several days without loss of viability[17]. A good bee plant[115].
Seed - sow March/April in a seedbed outdoors and either thin the plants out or move them to their permanent positions when about 10cm tall[111]. Plants can be cropped once they are more than 12 months old[264]. The young plants are very attractive to slugs so some protection will often be needed. Germination can be slow so it is best to sow the seed in pots in a cold frame[164]. Germination usually takes place in 3 - 26 weeks at 15°c[164]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out into their permanent positions when they are at least 10cm tall. Division in spring or autumn[1, 111]. Dig up the root clump and cut off as many sections as you require, making sure they all have at least one growing point. The larger of these divisions can be planted out straight into their permanent positions, though small ones are best potted up and grown on in a cold frame until they are established. Root cuttings, 3 - 10 cm long, in spring[104]. These can be planted straight into the open ground or you can pot them up in the greenhouse and plant them out once they are growing strongly.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants


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Botanical References
Links / References
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Readers comment
Richard Clark   Fri Dec 29 15:59:12 2000
How do you spell 'tollerate'? I'd say 'tolerate' with one 'l'.
Growers in northeast United States describing their experience with sea kale.   Aug 31 2011 12:00AM
Unlike Ken Fern in the notes on edibility above, I have found the older, larger leaves less bitter and more palatable than the younger, smaller leaves. Indeed, the older leaves I've sampled from my plants have no bitterness at all. Mind you, these aren't the oldest leaves on the plants, nor are the young leaves terribly bitter. I find them delicious and highly recommend this as a perennial green. Another nice feature, in my experience, is that my sea kale plants appear to be completely immune to the cabbage moths that have been pests on my annual cole crops, such as head cabbage, lacinato "dinosaur" kale, and broccoli.
Apios Institute
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Subject : Crambe maritima  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
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