Sea Lavender (Limonium latifolium) is a genus of herbs native to the Mediterranean region. They are called “sea” because they grow in water, but their leaves resemble those of other members of the family Asteraceae, such as thyme and oregano. Their common names include sea lettuce or sea parsley. They have been used medicinally for centuries, especially in the treatment of skin diseases.
The plant is found growing along coasts and estuaries, and it grows best when grown near saltwater. It is not a true seaweed; instead its name refers to the fact that it resembles a leafy green vegetable rather than being attached to any substrate like seaweed. Some species produce small white flowers which are edible if eaten raw or cooked with olive oil or lemon juice.
In addition to its medicinal uses, sea lavender has been used traditionally in aromatherapy and traditional medicine. Its essential oils have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties and may even be useful in treating asthma. The essential oil of sea lavender has also been shown to have antibacterial effects against some types of bacteria. It is often combined with rosemary and sage oils for its soothing effect on the respiratory tract.
The plant was used by Native Americans to treat skin sores, and it was used in England for treating joint pain. During the medieval period, it was mixed with wine to help prevent infection from wounds and is still used medicinally as an antiseptic and astringent to treat skin wounds and hemorrhoids. The plant also contains antioxidants that are effective in treating respiratory diseases and alleviating pain caused by muscle spasms or nerve damage. The plant should not be used internally or applied to open wounds and should never be taken with other medications.
This plant also has a long history of use in herbal medicine for treating the common cold, coughs, sore throats, and fatigue. It is considered effective in balancing the body’s pH levels and improving the function of the lymphatic system. It is also used in some alternative treatments for cancer and as an expectorant. The plant is also used as a treatment for diarrhea and as an antidote for poisoning.
It has been used traditionally to prevent infection after the removal of dead or diseased tissue and in the treatment of insect bites.
Limonium latifolium is a species of sea lavender native to the Mediterranean region around southern France, Italy, Algeria, and Morocco. It is also naturalized in Britain. It is found growing in sandy or rocky soil around the coast. The flowers are most commonly light blue or violet, but pink and white varieties also exist.
The plant is probably best grown from seed as an ornamental, but it can also be propagated by dividing its rootstock. It prefers light, sandy soil and full sun but will tolerate less than ideal conditions. It functions as a short-lived perennial and is hardy to USDA zones 5-9. It is frequently found growing wild along the coast in its native habitat.
It can grow to up to 3 feet in height and width. The flowers bloom from June to September and attract bees, butterflies, and other insects.
The leaves, flowers, buds, and stems are all edible when cooked. They have a flavor described as similar to spinach or rhubarb. In the commercial market, they are frequently pickled and used as a substitute for capers. The flowers can be used to make a yellow dye and the leaves can be used to produce a green dye.
Both dyes are best when extracted from the plants before they bloom. It is rare for plants to produce a large enough quantity of flowers to be harvested for commercial purposes.
The antispasmodic effects of the plant make it useful as a remedy for asthma or other breathing problems. It is also used in the treatment of coughs and colds, and as an expectorant. A poultice of the roots is used to treat skin conditions such as abscesses, sores, or infected wounds.
Various parts of the plant can also be used as an insect repellent. It repels or kills mosquitoes, gnats, and other biting insects when a poultice is applied to the skin. A tea of the flowers is used to treat insomnia and calm anxiety and restlessness.
If ingested, it should not be used as a laxative. It could cause irritation or a blockage in the digestive tract if used for this purpose.
When eaten in large quantities, any part of the plant may cause irritation or burning of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and stomach. It can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cardiac arrest. Even less consumption can cause vision problems including blurred vision. It can also cause difficulty with breathing and paralysis.
These effects are more likely when the plant has been exposed to cold or frost. The leaves can be cooked and eaten safely in small quantities, but they should not be eaten at all after a frost or blanching.
There have been rare reports of people who have used the flowers as an abortifacient, but this practice is not recommended. There is a reported case in which a woman died after using the flowers in this way.
The plant contains a number of cardiac glycosides including digitoxin, gitaloxifen, and limnon. These chemicals can increase the strength of the heart beats and cause cardiac arrest. In large enough quantities they can be fatal even when taken in tea or tablet form.
There is no antidote for overdose, treatment is purely supportive. Patients are medically monitored for their heart rate and rhythms. The patient is placed on a ECG and medical drugs are used to control the heart rate if necessary.
If the patient survives the effects of the plant, they are likely to suffer long term heart damage. Due to the rarity of this plant, it is not known what long term effects might occur if the patient survives.
The plant should not be given to children, as they are more susceptible to the cardiac glycosides andcould suffer fatal consequences more quickly than adults.
Due to the potential fatal side effects, it is not recommended that this plant be used in any way. It is advised that people do not pick this plant and avoid it altogether.
Sources & references used in this article:
Intraspecific variation of flower colour and its distribution within a sea lavender, Limonium wrightii (Plumbaginaceae), in the northwestern Pacific Islands by S Matsumura, J Yokoyama, Y Tateishi, M Maki – Journal of Plant Research, 2006 – Springer
Biological effect of irradiated chitosan on plants in vitro by LQ Luan, VTT Ha, N Nagasawa, T Kume… – Biotechnology and …, 2005 – Wiley Online Library
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Revision of Limonium (Plumbaginaceae) in eastern north America by JL Luteyn – Brittonia, 1976 – Springer
Myriolepis, a new genus segregated from Limonium (Plumbaginaceae) by MD Lledó, M Erben, MB Crespo – Taxon, 2003 – Wiley Online Library
Limonium mucronatum: plant communities and cytogenetic characterization of an endemic of the Moroccan Atlantic Coast by A Georgakopoulou, S Manousou, R Artelari… – Willdenowia, 2006 – JSTOR
Surviving in isolation: genetic variation, bottlenecks and reproductive strategies in the Canarian endemic Limonium macrophyllum (Plumbaginaceae) by L Rhazi, AR Rebelo, AS Róis, S Castro… – … all Aspects of Plant …, 2020 – Taylor & Francis