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Apiaceae  Syn. Umbelliferae
Carrot and Parsley Family

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The Apiaceae is a variable family including 300 - 400 genera and at least 2500 species of annual herbs, shrubs and trees, many with thickened or tuberous roots and hollow stems with deeply-cut, compound leaves. The inflorescence is usually an umbel of tiny, perfect or polygamous flowers with five petals and five stamens. Flowers are most commonly white or in some cases cream or pink. Typically, the flowers have stalks of different lengths so that all flowers are at the same height, producing an umbel with a flat top or many smaller umbels forming a single flat flower-head. The umbrella shaped flowerheads gave the family the original name, Umbelliferae. The family Apiaceae is named after the type plant Apium (Celery).
 
Some members of the family are very poisonous e.g. Hemlock, Giant Hogweed; or contact with the sap photosensitizes the skin. Others produce aromatic essential oils. Commercially-important members include angelica, anise, carrot, celery, coriander, dill, fennel, parsnip and parsley. Only a few members of the Apiaceae have any degree of succulence.
 
The Apiaceae is closely related to the Araliaceae which are merged into the Apiaceae in some treatments.

Azorella   Lamark 1783

This genus includes about 70 species of dwarf mat-forming plants, some with fleshy, succulent leaves. They are native to the high Andes of South America, Australia, New Zealand and some sub-Antarctic islands. With great age, some species form large cushions.

Azorella trifurcata Azorella trifurcata Azorella trifurcata  

Azorella trifurcata  (Gaertner) Persoon 1843   Syn. Bolax gummifera
is a compact evergreen plant whose fleshy succulent stems and glossy green rosettes make hard, rubbery mats and low mounds over the ground. The tiny yellow flowers are individually insignificant, but en masse provide colour.
 
This hardy, drought tolerant succulent plant requires excellent drainage. Native to Chile and the Falkland Islands but naturalised elsewhere. The root is said to be edible.

Crithmum   Linnaeus 1753

Crithmum is a monotypic genus for the succulent species Crithmum maritimum (Rock Samphire).

Crithmum maritimum (Rock Samphire), a native English scrubby, salt-tolerant succulent plant with branching stems and fleshy divided lanceolate leaves. It is found on coastal rocks, cliffs, walls, shingle and sandy soils, well above the high-tide mark but where salt spray can be carried on the wind. Heads of aromatic white flowers are produced in mid-Summer.

Crithmum maritimum Crithmum maritimum Crithmum maritimum  

Crithmum maritimum flowering in late August
at Canford Cliffs, Dorset.

Crithmum maritimum flowering in late August on Chesil Beach, Dorset.

 

This succulent plant is widely distributed along the Atlantic coast of Europe, Channel Islands, the Mediterranean and Black Sea. The aromatic leaves are edible. Culpeper described them as having a "pleasant, hot and spicy taste" but to my palate they have a metallic after-taste, like Nasturtium seeds. The stems, leaves and seed pods may be pickled, or the leaves used fresh in salads.
 
Several other plants are known as "Samphire" including the halophyte succulent genera Salicornia and Sarcocornia (Marsh Samphire, Glasswort).