Marsh samphire – poor man’s asparagus

On the siltier (not the sandy) beaches around Anglesey you’ll often find marsh samphire growing. It’s known by many names, including ‘poor man’s asparagus’, but it doesn’t taste much like asparagus!

One day, there will be no signs of the plants. But then all of a sudden they will start to appear: usually around the end of May or early June. Once they’ve emerged, they grow very quickly, soon resembling a miniature forest if you’re down at their level or a carpet of grass from above.

This mudflat will soon be covered by marsh samphire - this photo was taken on 7th June

This mudflat will soon be covered by marsh samphire – this photo was taken on 7th June

...the little tiny shoots were just beginning to appear

…the little tiny shoots were just beginning to appear

This is the same spot 12 days later.

This is the same spot 12 days later. Hundreds of plants are now quickly growing.

Marsh samphire is edible, and it’s not unpleasant. The youngest shoots can be eaten raw. They’re crunchy, juicy, salty and taste fresh and ‘green’. As the stems mature, they’re usually steamed or briefly boiled before being tossed in butter to serve.

When the plants are older still and they’ve become a little tough, some people pull the cooked plants through their teeth to extract the inner flesh, leaving the skins behind.

Marsh samphire’s botanical name is usually given as Salicornia europaea.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Marsh samphire – poor man’s asparagus

  1. argylesock

    This is a great post about a great plant! I first ate marsh samphire on a biology field trip when I was a schoolgirl many years ago. Now I’m wary because some saltmarshes might be polluted, even radioactive.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Two more samphires | Newborough Anglesey

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s