Crithmum maritimum

One of the common shrubs in littoral environments is Crithmum maritimum. It is known by the common name of sea fennel and it is a shrub with a small size. It barely reaches 50 cm in height. This makes it a fairly compact plant that performs some functions in coastal environments and cliffs such as gripping the bedrock and the surrounding land.

In this article we are going to tell you everything you need to know about Crithmum maritimum so that you can identify them with the naked eye and learn more about them.

Main features

It is an herb that has a woody strain with fleshy stems. From each stem there are numerous leaves that have a triangular outline and are quite divided. Being a small plant but having so many leaves, it becomes a compact plant protected from the winds. E l wind blows pretty strong on the cliffs. For this reason, this plant has been adapting to these winds so that it does not affect it in the same way.

Each leaf having a linear and elongated shape. At the ends we see a sharp spine-like apex. As is to be expected from such a small shrub, it has very numerous but very small flowers. They are quite inconspicuous since they have a whitish or pale green color and are hardly large. The inflorescences that have part of that amount of leaves that it has.

They are usually found occupying the fissures and crevices of the rocks in coastal cliffs. The land where it grows is generally stony soil and shallow as it is so close to the sea. You can see them on the beachfront where it is quite affected by the winds that are loaded with salt and the splashes of the waves. This shrub has had to adapt to the conditions of the environment in order to survive.

The advantage it has over other plants is that it can develop without further problems because they have no natural competitor. You can only see it accompanied by some other halophilic species, such as the evergreens, which do not have a main role in this type of environment. Therefore, it can be perfectly said that it has no competitor.

Range and habitat of Crithmum maritimum

As we have mentioned before, the environmental conditions in which it lives are quite extreme. It must withstand fairly high salinity levels, which has had to be an adaptation process for a long time. It reproduces in a normal way through flowers and fruits. It blooms at the end of summer and during the months from September until well into October.

In the province of Malaga and its coastline, it is common to see the Crithmum maritimum occupying some rocks, scree and cliffs, especially on the eastern coast of the province. It can also be seen more precisely in the surroundings of the Calaburras Lighthouse and other stony areas of the western coast.

As a curiosity, the leaves of sea fennel have a strong flavor reminiscent of celery, but with more salty tones. In some areas it is associated with asparagus for its flavor and serves as a substitute for parsley, being used as a culinary plant.

It is called sea fennel because its inflorescences closely resemble those of common fennel. The difference is that they do not occupy the same habitat nor do they have the same characteristic smell.

Care of the crithmum

Sea fennel can be used to decorate coastal gardens that also generally have high levels of salt. They can be used for decoration on rockeries, sandy slopes, low maintenance gardens or in the vegetable garden. It has some medicinal properties such as purifying, digestive and diuretic. For this reason, many people add the leaves of this plant to pickles or olives.

To take good care of it, you need to know a few things, since these plants have been adapted to extreme environments. We are going to go over one by one the care you need so that nothing is overlooked.

The first thing to consider is sun exposure. This plant supports the high temperatures that summer in the Mediterranean usually have quite well. Despite the fact that there are not usually very pronounced frosts here, the Crithmum maritimum is capable of withstanding frosts down to -15 degrees. For it to develop properly, it will need full sun exposure. It does not survive well in the shade. Find a place in the garden where it has many hours of sun.

The soil has to have good drainage. You don’t have to worry about the amount of organic matter or watering. Only that the ground does not accumulate water in case of rain. Preferably it is recommended that the soil is sandy or stony and nothing happens if they are poor in nutrients. You have to think that this plant is used to growing on cliffs next to the sea. They are capable of taking root even in places such as between rocks and calcareous soils.


Being a plant that grows in extreme conditions naturally, it is rare that it needs care. Just keep them in the sun and water them very, very occasionally if it has not rained for too long. The most normal thing is that it can survive well and develop without problems with what rains in the Mediterranean basin.

It does not need any fertilizer or pruning, since its leaves are falling and replacing themselves. As it can survive well in soils with hardly any nutrients, it does not need any fertilizer. It is a perfect plant to have in a summer house. You do not have to take care of it and having it in full sun is more than enough.

They are quite resistant and do not present problems of pests or diseases. To reproduce them, it is enough to wait until spring to sow the plant by seeds in the definitive place where it will be. It is not a plant to be transplanted.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about Crithmum maritimum and its characteristics.

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