Tecticornia indica



Tecticornia indica ssp. indica

(Willd.) K.A.Sheph. & Paul G.Wilson 2007

pronounced: teck-tih-KORN-ee-uh IN-dik-uh

(Amaranthaceae — the amaranth family)

synonym — Halosarcia indica

(Willd.) Paul G.Wilson 1980

pronounced: a-bell-MOSS-kuss ess-kew-LEN-tuss

common name: samphire

native 4Tecticornia is from two Latin words, tectum, a roof, and cornu, a horn, referring to the bracts that cover the flower. It is a genus of succulent, salt-tolerant plants largely endemic to Australia. In 2007, the genus Halosarcia, together with 3 other Australian genera – Pachycornia, Sclerostegia and Tegicornia – was incorporated into Tecticornia. There seems to be some doubt as to which of the two names is the accepted name for this plant. Samphire is the name given to a number of very different plants, often edible, that happen to grow in coastal areas, frequently on cliffs. The word usually refers to Crithmum maritinum, which is almost certainly the plant referred to in Shakespeare’s King Lear:

             Half-way down

             Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!

It was collected for use as a condiment, pickle, or salad ingredient.
John Gerard wrote in 1597:

The leaves kept in pickle and eaten in sallads with oile and vinegar is a pleasant sauce for meat, wholesome for the stoppings of the liver, milt and kidnies. It is the pleasantest sauce, most familiar and best agreeing with man’s body.

Tecticornia indica ssp. indica is endemic to tropical Africa, Madagascar, the Indian subcontinent, Indonesia, and northern Australia. It is a prostrate plant, with segments that are usually cylindrical, but sometimes barrel-shaped, 10 mm long by about 5 mm in diameter. The plants photographed grow in the salt flats in Cockle Bay.


Herball, Generall Historie of Plants


Photographs taken at Cockle Bay 2012
Page last updated 19th April 2019