Samphire planet

Earlier this summer I wandered off Tyninghame Beach and found myself on another planet. A totally normal-looking beach gradually gave way to sticky mud flats dotted with stringy green algae. A few more steps in and strange green sticks grew straight from the mud. Soon I found myself surrounded by a completely unexpected and bizarrely delightful colony of marsh samphire, Salicornia europaea.

You may know samphire as a crunchy, salty vegetable often served with fish dishes. But samphire is also called glasswort, not because it glows like stained glass in the sun, which it does, but because when burned, ashes from the plant become soda ash, used for making glass.

I'd never seen samphire growing in the wild, and on this surreal mudflat in the setting sun it was spectacularly beautiful. As well as crunchy and salty and delicious.