Beach silvertop (Glehnia littoralis) has an interesting distribution. This member of the Carrot Family is found in Alaska, British Columbia, California, Oregon and Washington. It also occurs along the North Pacific Coast of Asia. Its habitat is coastal beaches and dunes.
Beach silvertop is a spreading, stemless plant that arises from a stout, woody taproot. The leaves occur in a prostrate rosette. The pinnate, once or twice divided leaves are hairless above and covered with woolly, white, velvety hairs on the underside. The petioles (leaf stalks) are fleshy. The leaflets are coarsely toothed.
The inflorescence is a compound umbel of white flowers on hairy stalks. (An umbel is a cluster of flowers where the pedicels arise from a single point, like an umbrella.) The flowers have inconspicuous sepals, five tiny petals, hidden stamens and a projecting ovary tip.
Beach silvertop fruits are spherical to egg-shaped with many broad, corky wings or ribs and have oil tubes. The fruits contain many seeds.
Beach silvertop leaves, stems and young buds are edible and mainly used like an herb to add flavoring to foods.
Beach silvertop has antibacterial, expectorant and analgesic properties. Chinese, Japanese and Korean herbalists use beach silvertop root concoctions to treat coughs, migraines and immune-related disorders. Holistic healers in the United States also employ beach silvertop.
Also commonly called beach carrot, American glehnia and American silvertop, G littoralis synonyms are Glehnia leiocarpa, Cymopterus littoralis and Glehnia littoralis ssp leiocarpa.
Peter von Glehin (1835 – 1876), whom the genus name honors, was a Russian botanist and the curator of the St. Petersburg Botanical Garden, The species name means “of the seashore”.
The plants were photographed in early May at Dry Lagoon Beach while the fruits were photographed in late May at Redwood Creek. Both locations are in Redwood National and State Park, Humboldt County CA.