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Apiaceae, Crithmum maritimum, Rock Samphire, Samphire

January 4, 2010

Crithmum maritimum, an edible and medicinal member of the Apiaceae family, with such relatives as celery and fennel, among many others.

The stems have been described as having a pelesent, hot, and spicy taste.

Stems, leaves and seed pods can be harvested and pickled in hot, salted, spiced vinegar, or the leaves used fresh in salads.

In England the cultivation of Rock Samphire used to be more common. The plant grows readily in a light, rich soil. Obtaining seed commercially is now difficult, and in the United Kingdom the removal of wild plants is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

In the 17th century, William Shakespeare made a reference to dangerous activity of collecting Samphire from rocky cliffs when he wrote, “Half-way down, Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!”j

Crithmum contains the phenylpropanoid Apiole, a compound also present in Cinnamomum camphora and Piper angustifolium.

Some phenylpropanoids, such as Myristicin (present in Nutmeg) can have cytotoxic and mind altering effects. Myristicin is a Monoamine-oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), which inhibits the function of MAO, a gastral enzyme that oxidises monoamine. This inhibition results in an increase of biogenic amine neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. Psychotropic effects resemble those of amphetamine. Of course, when you consume MAOIs in requisite quantities along with plants containing dimethyl-tryptamine (DMT), the resulting psychoactive effects are far more pronounced.

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