Information on Common Scurvygrass

Common Name: Common Scurvygrass
Scientific Name: Cochlearia officinalis
Irish Name: Biolar trá
Family Group: Brassicaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


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Common Scurvygrass could sometimes be confused with:

Scurvygrass, Danish, Scurvygrass, English,

This is a small, low-growing, very variable biennial or perennial plant.  It is found, from March to August, on saltmarshes, coastal cliffs and walls, and rocky, muddy seashores.  The white or very pale mauve flowers (8-10mm across) have four petals and are borne in crowded racemes.  The basal leaves are fleshy and kidney-shaped, with arrow-shaped toothed leaves clasping the stem.  This is a native plant which belongs to the Brassicaceae family.  

I first found this wildflower in Dalkey, Co Dublin in 1977 and I photographed it in 2009 in the same area. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Scurvygrass, Common
Scurvygrass, Common

In his Complete Herbal, Culpeper writes of Scurvygrass that its chief good effect is when used 'by those that have the scurvy' and that it 'is of singular good effect to cleanse the blood, liver and spleen, taking the juice in the Spring every morning fasting in a cup of drink. The juice also helps all foul ulcers and sores in the mouth, gargled therewith; and used outwardly, cleanses the skin from spots, marks, or scars that happen therein'.

In earlier times, Scurvygrass was used by sailors on long sea voyages in order to prevent scurvy, a condition which is brought about by a deficiency in Vitamin C.