July 8, 2020

Coast to Coast

Glaux maritima - Sea milkwort

Glaux maritima – Sea milkwort | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

With a common name like sea milkwort, one would not be surprised to see the plant’s territory as coastal. With Glaux maritima, you’d be partially correct. This native of North America does, indeed, hug the coastline of New England for part of its distribution, but when you look farther afield, you’ll see it also calls home the interior of the United States. Places such as Colorado, Idaho and Montana all have G. maritima populations. Go Botany describes its habitats as: “Brackish or salt marshes and flats, edges of wetlands, marshes, shores of rivers or lakes.” Growing anywhere from 2 to 10 inches in height, the plant has “cup-shaped tubes” for flowers with five lobes and five stamens. The color is white to pinkish. There is also an alternative botanical name for it: Lysimachia maritima. Be warned: The boiled root of the plant is said to have been used by native populations to induce sleep. Good to know if you need a sleep aid whilst out and about and have the means and time to boil the root first.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.