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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Scurvy-grass Cochlearia officinalis

The thick, fleshy leaves of this coastal plant help it to store water in an environment where fresh water soon drains away (scurvy-grass plants found on mountains have thinner leaves and may belong to a different species). Scurvy-grass leaves are rich in vitamin C. They were once eaten, or pulped and drunk, to prevent scurvy—a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency to which sailors were prone (“grass” is Old English for any green plant).

Scurvy-grasszoom image
  • Profile Capparales
  • Habit Biennial or perennial
  • Height 4–16 in (10–40 cm)
  • Habitat Coastal rocks and salt marshes
  • Distribution Coasts of northern Europe and Asia and northern North America
Scurvy-grass habitat mapzoom image