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European Searocket Cakile maritima


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European Searocket
credit: National Park Service

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Alternate name: Horned Searocket

Family: Brassicaceae, Mustard view all from this family

Description Clumping succulent inhabitant of coastal areas.
Habit: introduced annual or short-lived perennial herb; thick stems, erect to prostrate, branched from base; taprooted.
Height: 4-20 in (10-50 cm) tall.
Leaf: alternate, shiny, fleshy, broad-stalked, deeply pinnatifid, divided into oblong lobes; 1-4 in (25-100 mm) long, 0.5-1.75 in (15-45 mm) wide.
Flower: white to pale pink to light purple, 0.35-0.6 in (9-15 mm) wide; with 4 petals, 6 stamens; held in loose, flat or domed terminal cluster of 15-60 flowers, 1.5-16 in (4-40 cm) tall.
Fruit: double pod, green becoming brown, held upright, 0.5-1.1 in (12-27 mm) long, 0.15-0.75 in (4-18 mm) wide; the conical upper segment is corky and floats when dry; lower segment remains attached to plant.

Flower Late spring to fall, or year-round, depending on location.

Habitat Beaches, coastal dunes, coastal bluffs.

Range Native to Europe; introduced in ships' ballast and cargo since the 18th or 19th century; now naturalized on the Atlantic Coast from New York to North Carolina, on the Gulf Coast in Alabama and Texas, and on the Pacific Coast from British Columbia to California.

Discussion Also known as Eurasian sea rocket. This somewhat invasive plant has become dominant on some Pacific beaches, but as yet it does not threaten the native vegetation on the Atlantic or Gulf Coasts.