St Helena Salad Plant
Common name: St Helena Salad Plant
Scientific name:Hypertelis acida
IUCN status: Vulnerable
The salad plant is a small low growing succulent plant (also known as the Longwood Samphire). It survives the hot dry conditions of the coastal zone. Hundreds of plants have been found in a few areas of the southern coast. Its succulent leaves have salty acid flavour and were used in salads. This plant is associated with the scrubwoods, tea plant, creeper, ice plant and wild coffee.
It is a small upright bushy plant that grows to about 0.20m tall, but can grow up to a metre in diameter. The succulent slightly swollen leaves are about 0.05m long and bluish grey green in colour. Pure white petaled flowers with yellow centres are borne in groups of 2-3 at the top of the 7-10cm long flower stem. The salad plant flowers in the months of July to September.
NUMBER OF SURVIVING POPULATIONS
There are only a few scattered populations of salad plants growing on the cliffs from Distant Cottage through Asses Ears, Nags Head to Lot’s Wife’s Ponds and Great Stone Top and Bencoolen. With about 500, 150 and 350 plants growing at each site respectively.
CONSERVATION RECOVERY PROGRAMMES
The salad plant like other dryland endemic species is recovering naturally. There are no immediate threats to these wild populations. But because they are isolated and found growing in rocky inaccessible places populations are vulnerable to natural events like rockfalls and land slips. The Environmental Conservation Section will continue to monitor population numbers as part of biannual surveys and collect seed for storage as a safe keeping measure.