SALTWORT

Also Known As
Beachwort
Pickleweed
Turtleweed
SPANISH:
Barilla
Camphire
Planta de Sal
OTHER:
Akulikuli Kai
Herbe-a-Crabes
Eat The Weeds also lists
Banana di Rif
Lechuga de Mar 
Saladilla 
Vidrio 
Virdrillo 


Order:   Brassicales
Family:   Bataceae
Genus:    Batis
Species: maritima

Florida n c s

Edible Parts
Nut Leaf Root
Animal Interaction
Butterfly
Other Uses
Ferment

This native, sprawling, dioecious shrub is one of the most common halophytes found along our Florida coastline, occurring in most of our coastal counties. While strolling along mangroves, tidal swamps, and saltmarsh trails, keep an eye out for patches of light yellowish-green leaves - upon closer inspection, they might just turn out to be Saltwort. The salty, succulent leaves may be eaten out-of-hand, however, they are not my favorite beach trailside snacks, being a bit too fibrous for my liking. Try consuming the younger leaves near the tips first. Dr. Howard, a co-author of Julia Morton’s book on Florida Wild Plants for Survival, recommends boiling and straining to remove “strings” to make a salty puree.” The very nutritious seeds have a "high oil content" and are edible in various ways, both raw and cooked. White-Tailed Deer nibble on the tips, and this plant is host to our Great Southern White butterfly. This native groundcover is sometimes planted after hurricanes to help restore coastal habitats. 



EDIBLE LEAVES:
- RAW: Green Deane calls it a "pre-seasoned green." The leaves may be easily snapped off and eaten out-of-hand. They are most definitely salty, and although the flavor is pleasing to me, the fibers within the leaves are usually a bit to much for me to enjoy fully. The younger leaves near the leafy tips have less fibers, so I target those. Try tossing some atop a salad to add a salty crunch. I prefer cooking them briefly and pressing them through a sieve, to make a puree. Julia Morton tells us that —Dr. Howard [the co-author of her book on wild plants for survival] recommends boiling and straining to remove “strings” to make a salty puree.”
- PICKLED LEAVES: They apparently make good pickles. Use the younger leaves.
- COOKED GREEN: The young leaves may be steamed or boiled.
EDIBLE SEEDS:
- SEEDS: Green Deane writes, "pepper-corn size seeds edible in salads, toasted, or “popped”  like corn." - Oh my, I must experiment and get back to you.
- SEED OIL: "The seeds have a high oil content with high nutritional value." [4]
BUTTERFLY GARDENING: Planted in "butterfly gardens in saline areas along the coasts." [3] The larval host for the "
Great Southern White (Ascia monuste) butterflies, and possibly larval host for Eastern Pygmy-Blue (Brephidium isophthalma) butterflies. Nectar plant for Eastern Pygmy-Blue and other butterflies." [3]
RESTORATION: Recommended for "habitat restoration." [3] It "is a pioneer plant" that "covers quickly areas where hurricanes have destroyed the natural vegetation." [4] 

More Details

NATIVE TO: "Southern United States south to the Monroe County Keys; West Indies, Mexico, Central America and South America." [3] Florida [most, if not all, coastal counties]. It is invasive in Hawaii.
HABITAT: Coastal wetlands. [3] Salt marshes, openings in tidal swamps. [3] Highly salt and flood tolerant. [3] Low drought tolerance. [3] Brackish marshes, mangrove swamps, "margins of saltpans and wind-tidal flats." [4]
DECSRIPTION: Prostrate evergreen shrub, scrambling, much wider than tall. Forming "dense colonies." [4] "Colonizing new mud, but once rooted, growing bushy." [1]
- HEIGHT: "Typically 2-4 feet in height." [3]
- LEAVES: Roundish, succulent, swollen, fleshy, light green to yellowish-green, occasionally reddish. "Narrowly club-shaped." [1]
- FLOWERS: Dioecious, inconspicuous, small, appear in spikes, appearing "mid-summer to fall." [1]  Yellowish-white, [3]
- FRUIT: Green and fleshy while developing, a "cylindrical berry." [3] 
ETYMOLOGY: Maritima = of the ocean.
PROPAGATION: Seed, ground layering, and division. [3]
RELATED SPECIES: There are no other Batis species here in Florida, in fact, there is just one other species in the world [native to Australasica]. It is interesting to note that our native species is dioecious, while the non-native is monoecious. [1]
NOTE: Do not confuse this species with other plants also known as Saltwort, including......................................... ?Salsola genus?
CLASSIFICATION: "Some botanists divide B. maritima into five species, with B. californica, B. fruticosa, B. spinosa and B. vermiculatus split off, but this interpretation is not widely followed." [1] 


Flowering Calendar
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D


Flower Color
White
Pollination
Requires Pollinator
Flowering Type
Dioecious
Bearing Age
1 years

Habitat
Coastal Tidal Marshes
Native?
Native


Plant Form
Woody Evergreen Perennial Shrub
Height
4 feet
Width
8 feet
Rate of Growth
Moderate


Hardiness Zone
9a to 11b
Light
Part Sun Full Sun
Soil
Sandy
Tolerances
Salt Tolerant Flood Tolerant
Watering
Wet
Moist


When to Harvest
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D


Sources for acquiring

A very few native nurseries sell these as potted plants. 


References

1 - Atlas of Florida Plants 
2 - eattheweeds.com 
3 - Regional Conservation 
4 - Wikipedia 
Last Updated: December 6, 2017