BEACH CABBAGE: AMAZING PLANTS OF THE WORLD

Beach Cabbage

In my never-ending study of plants for skin & hair, I sometimes stumble upon some crazy specimens. With an eccentric appearance or with surprising qualities. The pearls I share.
This time beach cabbage.

Beach cabbage
a.k.a.
Scaevola taccada
Scaevola sericea
Sea lettuce
Beach naupak

WHAT IS BEACH CABBAGE?

Maybe you know this beach shrub from postcards you got from visitors of the tropics. Or you are a lucky bastard who lives on a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean, Indo-Pacific, Arabian Sea, or Indian Ocean.

Scaevola taccada is a pioneer plant because it shows up as one of the firsts when new atolls and sandbanks arise. It loves to grow on the edge of the beach on sandy or pebbly soils. Being exposed to salt spray is not a problem, beach cabbage has a good resistance to strong winds and high salinity levels. Occasionally scaevola taccada can attain heights up to 16 feet.

Beach cabbage is an evergreen that blooms the whole year round with white fan-like shaped flowers. The leaves are slightly succulent, glossy, fleshy-looking, lime green-coloured, and spoon-like shaped. The fruit turns white to yellowish-white in maturity and is spread by birds and on ocean currents (seeds are buoyant).


SPECIAL FEATURES OF SCAEVOLA TACCADA

FOOD
The leaves and fruits are edible, but not very tasty. I will leave that to your judgement though ;).

EROSION CONTROL
The branches of beach cabbage root where they touch the ground. This means this shrub can spread easily and can be, in the right circumstances, perfect for erosion control.

PROTECTION AGAINST SALT SPRAY
Scaevola taccada is planted on the beach crests to protect other cultivated plants from the salt spray.

MEDICINAL FEATURES
Traditionally, the leaves of naupaka kahakai were used as a natural sunscreen and to heal cuts, rashes, and stings. Especially the liquid from the little white fruit is interesting.

How to use:
Pick the white, round fruit and squeeze it above an open eye. Its drops will clean and cure irritated eyes.

Besides this, the healing liquid can also be applied to wounds, especially when caused by coral.

Photo: Ahmed Yaaniu