Low-growing perennial with fleshy heart-shaped leaves, dense clusters of white 4-petaled flowers, and rounded swollen seed pods.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to Europe and temperate regions of Asia and North America, but now rare, scurvy grass thrives in the salty soil of coastal areas and salt marshes. It is occasionally cultivated.
Leaves, aerial parts.
Scurvy grass contains glucosilinates, a volatile oil, a bitter principle, tannin, vitamin C, and minerals.
History & Folklore
As the common name suggests, this plant has long been used for its high vitamin C content. It was used by sailors and others to prevent the onset of scurvy, a potentially fatal vitamin C deficiency marked by bleeding of the gums.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Besides having a high vitamin C content, scurvy grass has antiseptic and mild laxative actions. The young plant, which has a general detoxicant effect and contains a wide range of minerals, is taken as a spring tonic. Like watercress (Nasturtium officinale), it has diuretic properties and is useful for any condition in which poor nutrition is a factor. It can be used in the form of a juice as an antiseptic mouthwash for canker sores, and can also be applied externally to spots and pimples.