Crambe maritima


See also: Crambe, North Yorkshire

Crambe is a genus of Brassicaceae native to Europe, southwest and central Asia and eastern Africa. It includes among its species seakale (Crambe maritima), grown as a leaf vegetable, Crambe cordifolia which is grown as an herbaceous border perennial, and Crambe abyssinica, which is grown for an oil from the seeds that has similar characteristics to whale oil.

Crambe species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Lime-speck Pug.

As a perennial garden plant it produces spectacular and large sprays of flowers some 1.5 m tall. These flowers comprise numerous small pale yellow to white florets distributed in three dimensions on slender but firm stems. They have a strong and pleasant fragrence of honey. The leaves are unimpressive, looking like common cabbage leaves, although even they are quite good at ground coverage. The plant was somewhat popular in the Victorian era, fell from common usage in the twentieth century and is now making a comeback. It is a bold and impressive plant that fills a considerable volume of space.

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