Sea Rockets (Cakile maritima and C. edentula)
Common names: Sea Rocket, American Sea Rocket, European Sea Rocket, Two Horned Sea Rocket
Taxonomic names: Cakile edentula, Cakile maritima
Habitat: Coast, beaches
Form: Short, succulent shrub
Flowering Time: C. maritima – all year. C. edentula – Spring and Summer
Description and uses:
We have two Sea Rocket species here in S.A. They are ‘American Sea Rocket’ (Cakile edentula) and ‘Two-horned Sea Rocket’ or ‘European Sea Rocket’ (C. maritima). Both like to grow on our sandy beaches where the plants are often buried for a while. They often form mounds up to about 60 cm tall.
Both Sea Rocket species have quite variable leaf shape but can be told apart by their seed pods (C. maritima has two little wings or horns at the base of its seed pods) and flowering times (C. maritima flowers all year, C. edentula only flowers in the warmer weather of Spring and Summer).
The flowers have four petals and are white or pink to purple and in the cross shape that are characteristic of its family, Cruciferae (meaning ‘cross shaped’), which includes cabbages.
The Sea Rockets are in the same family as Cress and share its mustard bite throughout every part of themselves. The taste is so strong that it is used in restaurants as a substitute for Wasabi. Yes, it’s that hot!
The whole plant has this flavour, but generally it’s the leaves that are used. The seeds have concentrated bite and take on a different taste when dry. Please be careful how much you use…It’s hot!