Cakile maritima - Sea Rocket

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Brassicales - Family: Brassicaceae

Cakile maritima, Sea Rocket

Gravelly sea shores are the natural habitat of many members of the family Brassicaceae including Sea Rocket. Changing the family name of this family of plants from Cruciferae to Brassicaceae (Cabbage plants) has done nothing for a group that already got quite a bad press. (Oilseed Rape, which causes allergic reactions in even normally healthy individuals, is an example.) It is therefore important to remember that some of our most loved garden plants and wildflowers are also 'cabbage's - Aubrieta deltoidea, for instance.

Closeup of Sea Rocket flowers

Identification

This coastal member of the mustard family is a pioneer species, colonising bare sand and shingle close to the splash zone where few other plants are able to survive. To cope with the shifting sand, Sea Rocket puts down a long taproot that branches and helps stabilise the sand.

Thick fleshy leaves to help this plant to retain moisture, while it low growing form helps it cope with the impact of sand blown by strong coastal winds.

The four-petalled flowers, 10 to 15mm across, are mauve, pinkish or occasionally almost pure white.

Similar Species

Related species such as black mustard, rape and wild turnip are all very similar in form, having four flower petals and leaves with a bluish tinge; they too are commonly found near the coast but unl;ike Sea Rocket their flowers are yellow.

Sea Rocket, Teifi Estuary, Wales


Volume 1

We hope that you have found this information helpful. If so we are sure you would find our books Wonderful Wildflowers of Wales, vols 1 to 4, by Sue Parker and Pat O'Reilly very useful too. Buy copies here...

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