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.
This diminutive plant with its delicate flowers is represented in ancient deposits in Interglacial beds at West Wittering, Sussex. It is found in the Northern Temperate and Arctic Zones in Arctic Europe, except in Turkey, N. Asia, W. Asia, eastwards as far as N.W. Himalayas, and in North America. Sea Milkwort occurs on the coasts of every maritime county in Great Britain, except those of estuaries in Middlesex and Lanark, as in the case of the Sea Lavender.
Sea Milkwort is a maritime species addicted to the muddy shores of estuaries and coasts generally. In this it agrees with the habitats of Sea Lavender, Sea Plantain, Scurvy Grass, Sea Kale, Sea Rocket. It is found also in salt-pans in Worcester and Staffordshire.
Photo. Dr. Somerville Hastings - Sea Milkwort (Glaux maritima, L.)
This little plant is usually found in patches, like the Stonecrop and other semi-prostrate plants. It has a suberect stem, at first prostrate. The leaves are oval, bluish-green, smooth, stalkless, and entire. The root-stock is stoloniferous.
The small flowers are pink, stalkless, and unique amongst apetalous flowers. The flowers are suberect, with blunt segments. The calyx is bell-shaped, and does duty for the corolla, with membranous margins. The anthers are prominent. The capsule is small, globose, containing seeds which are plano-convex.
Sea Milkwort is about 3 in. high. The flowers are in bloom in May and June. The plant is perennial, and can be propagated from seed.
A small quantity of honey is secreted at the base of the calyx. The flowers, which lack a corolla, are small and inconspicuous, and the plant being maritime is little visited by insects. The stamens are shorter than the stigma, and the style is threadlike, the stigma blunt, and when mature the anthers are not quite projecting. Self-pollination is thus rendered easy. The capsule is 5-valved and splits open when ripe, and the seeds, which are few, are dispersed by the shaking of the flowering stems by the wind.
Sea Milkwort is a salt-lover, and requires a saline soil. It is likewise a sand-loving plant, and addicted to sand.
The leaves are attacked by a fungus, Aecidium Glaucis.
Glaux, Tournefort, is from the colour of the leaves, Greek glaucos, bluish-green, and the second Latin name indicates its maritime habit.
Milkwort, Black Saltwort, Sea Trifoly are the names popular usage has conferred upon this plant. In reference to the name Milkwort, Lyte says: "This taken with meate, or milke, or potage, ingendreth planty of milke: therefore it is goode to be used of nurses that lacke milke. The same virtue hath Polygala taken with his leaves and flowers."
It is a pretty little flower, and quite suited for garden culture in pots or sandy soil in the open.
Essential Specific Characters:204. Glaux maritima, L. - Stem sub-prostrate, fleshy, leaves glaucous, glabrous, ovate, opposite, flowers pink, in the axils, sessile, apetalous, calyx coloured, blunt.