- Family Cruciferae
- Cochlearia officinalis
- Scrubby Grass, Spoonwort, Carnson, Skeewort, Erba a Cucchiaino, Coclearia, Skeawyrt
- None listed.
Native to Europe and temperate regions of Asia and North America, this grass is a low-growing perennial with fleshy heart-shaped leaves, dense clusters of white four-petaled flowers, and rounded swollen seedpods. Now very rare in the wild and only occasionally cultivated, it thrives best in the salty soil of coastal areas and salt marshes. The leaves of the first or second year are harvested for medicinal purposes and the aerial parts are harvested shortly before or during flowering in the second year.
As its name suggests, this plant has long been valued by sailors and others to prevent the onset of scurvy, a potentially fatal vitamin C deficiency. Prior to the discovery of vitamins, the effectiveness of the plant in preventing scurvy was attributed to its volatile oil.
The English physician, Robert Turner, stated in the 17th century that scurvy grass, taken in ale, was a remedy for a range of conditions, including “ague”.
- mild laxative
- scurvy preventative
- a volatile oil
- a bitter principle
- vitamin C
- Leaves, aerial parts
Since the young plant contains a wide range of minerals and has a general detoxicant effect, it is taken as a spring tonic.
Its juice is used as an antiseptic mouthwash for gum disease, or can be applied externally to spots and pimples, or as in a poultice for ulcers.
It was also used for nose bleeds, rheumatism, gonorrhea, as a blood-cleanser or purifier, gout, stomachaches, and as a diuretic.
Homeopathic uses include eye inflammations and stomach disorders.