European Searocket – Cakile maritima

Found this little charmer growing along the grass line on the dunes of the north coast, often near yellow sand verbena. Like the verbena, it has some succulent-like qualities.

It grows low to the ground, almost creeping along the sand. Fine, pink flowers adorn the tips, each with four small perfect petals. The flowers are about one-third the size of my pinky fingernail, for scale.

European Searocket - Cakile maritima top view
Eventually, the flowers turn into seed pods, as they often do. These pods look a bit like peas and are much larger than the flowers from whence they came. Some are nearly the size of my thumbnail. They are vibrant green.

European Searocket - Cakile maritima seeds closeup
It’s not a particularly lush plant, and why would it be if it’s growing in salty sand? It’s leaves are lobed to pinnatifid and they turn a putrid yellow.

European Searocket - Cakile maritima top view human eyes
As it turns out, there are two varieties of Searocket found in the area: European and American. Neither are native to the North Coast of Oregon. According to “Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast”, American Searocket grows in the Atlantic and Great Lake regions. European Searocket is, as it name implies, from Europe. 

It also took a bit to identify this flower. I collected the specimen on July but didn’t figure it out until late August, and until a few moments ago, I was going with American Searocket — not European Searocket. The giveaway was the leaf shape. 

European Searocket - Cakile maritima leaf focus

Metz, L. (n.d.). CalPhotos: Cakile maritima; Sea Rocket. Retrieved September 05, 2016, from 0000 0703 0015. Close-up on image that confirmed identify.

Cakile maritima (European searocket). (n.d.). Retrieved September 05, 2016, from

Pojar, J., MacKinnon, A., & Alaback, P. B. (1994). Revised Plants of the Pacific Northwest coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska. Redmond, WA: Lone Pine Pub. Page 153


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