Suaeda vera

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaChenopodiaceaeSuaedaSuaeda vera


An evergreen shrub of shingle drift-lines and the dry upper zones of saltmarshes, especially where these adjoin shingle banks or sand dunes; also along sea-wall drift-lines and, more rarely, beside brackish creeks and ditches in coastal grazing marshes. Lowland.



World Distribution

Mediterranean-Atlantic element.

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 9

Moisture (Ellenberg): 7

Reaction (Ellenberg): 8

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 5

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 5

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4.1

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.4

Annual Precipitation (mm): 620

Height (cm): 120

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 47

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 1

Atlas Change Index: -0.11

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Suaeda vera Forsskål ex J. Gmelin

Shrubby sea-blite

Status: scarce


This is a conspicuous shrub of shingle drift-lines and the dry upper parts of saltmarshes, especially where these adjoin shingle banks or sand dunes. It also occurs along sea-wall drift-lines and, more rarely, adjoining brackish `creeks' and ditches in coastal grazing marshes. On shingle it can form dense monospecific stands, but in saltmarshes it is usually co-dominant with Atriplex portulacoides and/or Elytrigia atherica. In Norfolk it is also a prominent member of a distinctive community of saltmarsh - sand dune transitions, with such species as Armeria maritima, Atriplex portulacoides, Frankenia laevis, Limonium bellidifolium, L. binervosum and Puccinellia maritima

S. vera is a small evergreen shrub, flowering from July to September and fruiting from September to November. Water-borne seeds are washed up and accumulate amongst drift-line litter, germinating in the spring. Vegetative fragments detached during winter storms may also be involved in the colonisation of new sites. Lateral vegetative spread is by means of freely rooting subterranean stems.

S. vera has probably always been scarce in Britain, and its distribution has clearly changed very little in recent times. There are relatively few cases of the species having been lost from sites, although at its northern limit in Lincolnshire it has apparently "come and gone and returned several times" (Gibbons 1975). Some stands of S. vera may be at risk from sea defence and other coastal engineering schemes, although most of the larger populations are within SSSIs. Nevertheless, accelerated sea-level rise as a result of climate-change could represent a significant long-term threat.

It is found on the coasts of southern and western Europe and inland in Spain (Jalas & Suominen 1980); also in Madeira, the Canary Islands, St Helena, Angola, Somalia, south-western Asia and inland in southern Russia, Afghanistan and India. It reaches its northern limit in Britain, which correlates with the 16 °C isotherm for August (Chapman 1976).

For an account of the ecology of this species, see Chapman (1947).


S. J. Leach

Atlas text references

Atlas (86a)
de Bolòs O, Vigo J
1990.  Flora dels Països Catalans, II. Crucíferes-Amarantàcies.
Chapman (1947b)
Jalas & Suominen (1980)
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.