from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. See glasswort.
  • n. An Old World coastal plant (Crithmum maritimum) having fleshy compound leaves and small white flowers grouped in compound umbels.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. One of several edible plants growing near the sea, including the rock samphire.
  • n. Glasswort, the plant once burned to produce the ash used to make soda glass.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A fleshy, suffrutescent, umbelliferous European plant (Crithmum maritimum). It grows among rocks and on cliffs along the seacoast, and is used for pickles.
  • n. The species of glasswort (Salicornia herbacea); -- called in England marsh samphire.
  • n. A seashore shrub (Borrichia arborescens) of the West Indies.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A succulent umbelliferous herb, Crithmum maritimum, growing in clefts of rocks close to the sea in western Europe and through the Mediterranean region.
  • n. Borrichia arborescens, a maritime shrub of the West Indies.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. fleshy maritime plant having fleshy stems with rudimentary scalelike leaves and small spikes of minute flowers; formerly used in making glass


Alteration of French herbe de Saint Pierre, from Saint Pierre, Saint Peter.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Originally sampiere, from French Saint Pierre, the patron saint of fishermen who often harvested the plant. (Wiktionary)



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  • Fleshy and suffrutescent and umbelliferous, oh my!

    November 17, 2012

  • Nice word, sionnach!

    October 16, 2007

  • An edible wild plant found in coastal regions of mainland Great Britain. The term samphire is used for several unrelated species of coastal plant.

    In King Lear, Shakespeare refers to the dangerous practice of collecting rock samphire from cliffs:

    "Half-way down, Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!"

    October 16, 2007