This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
The seeds of Common Scurvy Grass have never been discovered in Glacial beds up to the present. It is confined to the Arctic and sub-Arctic shores of Europe. X. Asia. and N. America, and the Alps of W. Europe. In the Peninsular province it is absent from S. Somerset, in the Channel provinces from Sussex, in X. Wales it does not occur in Merioneth, in the Mersey province not in Mid Lanes. it is absent from Westmorland in the Lakes province. It is absent from Wigtown. Main Argyll, and Mid Ebudes: and in the X. Highlands occurs only along the coasts of Caithness, and amongst Northern Isles it is absent from the Hebrides. But it is generally -iributed around the other maritime coasts, as well as or. some high mountains inland. It is found in Ireland and the Channel Islands.
The Scurvy Grass occurs around the coast on muddy seas It is a common associate of Sea Rocket, Sea Kale. Sea Bin Plantain, and many other strand plants. The form which inland on alpine mountains is now separated as a distinct species (C. graenlan This plant is perhaps more common on the coast than the east, though where tidal rivers bring down mud and the coast is not so sandy it grows in every part of the country.
The plant is provided with many stems, usually ascending and the radical leaves are kidney-shaped and stalked those on the stem stalkless, clasping the stem, wavv. and angular. The whole plant is shy, and the first Latin name is given in allusion to the hollow cave leaves, which are thus spoonlike. The stem is often stoloniferous with trailing stems.
The silicules or pods are nearly round, half as long as the flowerstalks. The flowers are white and in loose corymbs. The style is very short. The seeds are large the valves of the pod netted. The pods are 2-celled with 4 - 6 seeds in each cell.
The height varies from 4 - 10 in. The plant is in flower from May to June or August, and is biennial The flowers are small, and are not conspicuous. The petals have but a short stalk. The stigma is simple, and cross-pollination is not so likely as self-pollination. The visitors are Diptera (Syrphidae), Eristalis tenax, Helophilus floreus, Melanostoma mellina, Coleoptera, Cetonia aurata.
The fruit is dispersed by its own agency. The pods are globose, and contain many seeds, which are dispersed with the bursting of the capsule when dry and ripe, the seeds becoming turgid or swollen.
Photo. J. H. Crabtree - Common Scurvy Grass (Cochlearia officinalis, L.)
The seeds are flattened lengthwise, with a notch at the apex. The testa is brown and covered with wartlike projections, blunt, large, and crystalline in lines. In water these lengthen and become transparent, and there are then visible furrowed threadlike thickenings. They do not burst but become larger in water, and these mucilage cells help to fix the seed in the ground.
The plant is a halophyte or salt-loving plant, and requires a saline soil.
Scurvy Grass is not infested by fungi, but by such beetles as Psylliodes marcida, Centorhynchus Cochleariae, Phaedon armoraciae, and Lepidoptera, the large White Butterfly, Pieris brassicae, Aplecta, Cidaria, Botys forficalis.
Gesner gave the name Cochlearia, from Latin cochlear, spoon, in allusion to the shape of the leaves, and officinalis means "used in medicine".
The English names are Bad Man's Oatmeal, Scrooby Grass, Scurvy Grass, Scurvy Cress, Scurvy Weed, Spoonwort, the latter alluding to the shape of the leaves.
The plant is endowed with antiscorbutic properties by the older writers, hence some of the names. It certainly contains much oil, and might be used more largely as a salad. It was used for ague in Gerard's day. It is a stimulant to the digestive organs.
Essential Specific Characters: 29. Cochlearia officinalis, L. - Stems fleshy, numerous, rooting, radical leaves reniform, cordate, stem-leaves sessile, oblong, toothed, flowers small, white, capsule a subglobose pouch, style short.