SEA BLITE

Also Known As
ENGLISH:
Annual Seablite
Annual Seepweed
Narrow-Leaf Seablite
Seepweed
Southern Sea Blite
SYNONYMS
Chenopodina linearis 
Dondia linearis 
Dondia carinata  
BASIONYM
Salsola linearis 


Order:   Caryophyllales
Family:   Amaranthaceae
Genus:    Suaeda
Species: linearis

Florida n c s

Edible Parts
Nut Leaf Shoots
Other Uses
Ferment
This is, without question, my favorite edible coastal wild potherb in the state. I am not alone, and fellow Florida wildcrafters Green Deane and Nate Chetelat agree – it's a winner. The leaves have a very pleasant, salty flavor and delicate, crunchy texture. I break off tender growth and tips by hand, early in the season, and pop them in my mouth as a trailside nibble, or, better yet, boil them for five minutes. In southern Florida, the season begins in December and runs through January, often into May or June.  In north-coastal parts of the state, it may first pop up as late as March. Oh, one more thing... Nate Chetelat introduced me to pickled Sea Blite, which was absolutely delightful. I have heard of people adding the fresh leafy stems to their mixed veggie ferments.... yumster. 



EDIBLE YOUNG LEAVES, SHOOTS, AND TIPS: This is truly an outstanding edible wild potherb. Tender tips and new growth can be eaten raw, and are excellent this way, sprinkled atop a salad or eaten as a trailside nibble. That said, I really love them quickly boiled or steamed for five minutes. Leaves have varying amounts of salt within. There is never a need to add salt. If they taste too salty for your liking, try boiling them in a change or two or water. This delicious green should be experimented with in various dishes. They have been used as a flavoring. [6,7] Please write to me with any of your tasty recipes. Green Dean writes that this is “one of my favorite greens," and I have to agree. The Backyard Nature blog writes, "notice the strange feature that some of the reddish leaves elongate and swell to several times the size of others. At first I thought they must be capsular fruits but they weren't, just juicy, salty leaves that tasted pretty good when nibbled upon."
- PICKLED: My friend Nate Chetelat introduced me to pickled Sea Blite, which was absolutely delightful. 
- FERMENTED: I have heard of people fermenting the fresh leafy stems in their vegetable ferment mixes.... this I must try.
NOTE: Mote Marine Aquarium contacted me, asking which coastal veggies might be suitable for commercial cultivation in saltwater overflow from fish tanks of theirs - I replied, "try Sea Blite."
EDIBLE SEEDS: The tiny seed may be eaten "raw or cooked. They are ground into a meal and used as a mush or added to cereals and used in making bread." [7]  I have yet to try them.  Flora of North America list the seeds size as being only two millimeters in diameter. [8] 

Recipes

See eattheweeds.com for a couple of recipes that include delicious Sea Blite leaves. 

More Details

NATIVE TO: Maine to Texas, south to Florida, along the coasts of the eastern and gulf coast United States. [2] It is reported from most coastal counties in Florida, although it is not vouchered in the five furthest western panhandle counties. [3] Into parts of coastal Mexico "and eastward through the Caribbean." [12]
HABITAT: Coastal - Mangrove swamps, especially Black Mangrove swamps, shaded parts of barrier islands, salt marshes, sand dunes, salt flats, beaches. [1] Also in tidal marshes, coastal berms, disturbed uplands and wetlands near the coast. [9] Plants for a Future website states that "it can not grow in shade." but I have often seen it in the deep shade of Black Mangrove swamps in south Florida. “It is found in salinity conditions ranging from 10 to 50 parts per thousand.” [13]
CONSERVATION STATUS: It is an endangered species in New York state. [2]
RELATED SPECIES: Within Florida, Suaeda maritima is also found along our coasts. Linearis is, however, the most common. [5]
ASSOCIATED PLANTS:  It is often found growing along side Sea Purslane.
DESCRIPTION: This often scraggly annual halophyte that may overwinter and live perennially for a few years. The further south it grows, the more apt it is to be perennial. [2] Woody based. [12]
- STEMS / BRANCHES: Upright, light green, often noticeably striped. Branches many, sprawling, often running along the ground to some extent. "Lower stems usually with dried, withered leaves." [5]
- LEAVES: Alternate, linear, "almost needle-like," one half to one and a half inches long [15], succulent. The new leaves appear greyish-green. The leaves may turn reddish as the plant ages, drought occurs, or seasons get cooler. The reddish color is caused by betacyanin. [15]
- FLOWERS: Flowers appear in “spicate panicles.” [15] Minute, inconspicuous, white [5] red, pink, or orange. [4] Hermaphroditic. [6] Wind pollinated. [6] NOTE: wildflower.org lists is as August through December. [4] Flowering time from August through December. [4] Plants for a Future lists it as flowering from August through September, as does Green Dean on eattheweeds.com. [1,6]
- SEEDS: "Glossy black, small." [1] They ripen from September through October. [6]
- POLLEN: It "is a mild allergen." [14]
WILDLIFE: “Oyster shell deposits play an important ecosystem engineering role in influencing salt marsh plant communities by providing a unique niche for Suaedalinearis, which otherwise would be rare or absent in salt marshes in the southeastern US. Since the success of Suaedalinearis is linked to the success of oysters, efforts to protect and restore oyster reefs may also benefit salt marsh plant communities.” [16]
PROPAGATION: By seeds in the spring. [6] Seed “germination is high in both full sun and in shaded conditions.” [13]
TAXONOMY: It “is a member of the family Amaranthaceae, and is included in the subfamily Suaedoideae, tribe Suaedeae, subgenus Brezia and Section Brezia.” [13]
ETYMOLOGY: "The Online Etymology Dictionary reports that the word "blite" derives from the Latin blitum, based on the Greek bliton, used to describe spinach, or plants like it. So the term seablite loosely translates to "spinach of the sea," which is appropriate because the succulent, salty leaves taste pretty good." [12] 


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


Flower Color
White
Flowering Type
Hermaphroditic

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


Fruit Color
Black

Habitat
Coastal Salt Flats, Mangroves
Native?
Native


Plant Form
Herbaceous Deciduous Annual Herb
Height
3 feet
Width
6 feet

Hardiness Zone
6a to 11b
Light
Shade Part Sun Full Sun
Soil
Sandy Clay
pH
7.0
Tolerances
Salt Tolerant
Watering
Wet
Moist


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

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


Sources for acquiring

This is a native wild herb that I have never seen for sale at any nurseries to date. 


References

[1] eattheweeds.com 
[2] gobotany.newenglandwild.org 
[3] Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants 
[4] wildflower.org 
[5] txmarspecies.tamug.edu 
[6] pfaf.org 
[7] Plants for Human Consumption, by Kunkel 
[8] Flora of North America 
[9] Regional Conservation 
[10] Wikipedia 
[11] Dave's Garden 
[12] Backyard Nature blog 
[13] A Review of the North American Halophyte Suaeda linearis, by Lonard, Judd, Slater, and Brown 
[14] pollenlibrary.com 
[15] Marine Plants of the Texas Coast 
[16] Post-mortem Ecosystem Engineering by Oysters Creates Habitat for a Rare Marsh Plant, 2012 




Last Updated: October 28, 2017

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