Definition of samphire in US English:



  • 1A European plant of the parsley family that grows on rocks and cliffs by the sea. Its aromatic, fleshy leaves were formerly much used in pickles.

    Crithmum maritimum, family Umbelliferae

    • ‘The chef dishes it up with parsley sauce, in fish pie, and with samphire and cockles in his recent book Fish, Etc.’
    • ‘Marsh samphire is more salty than rock samphire and does not have the same powerful aroma.’
    • ‘The chef's special was Brochettes of scallops and prawn on a bed of green leaves and samphire grass.’
    • ‘The alternatives to that were cod on samphire, ribsteak of Hereford beef or porcini gnocchi.’
    • ‘Add the remaining olive oil to the same pan, then add the samphire.’
  • 2

    another term for glasswort
    • ‘The salt marshes support cord grass, marsh samphire and sea purslane.’
    • ‘We should be using more traditional ingredients such as kale, samphire and asparagus in our cooking.’
    • ‘The subfamily Salicornioideae Kostel., more commonly known as samphires or glassworts, are characterized by their distinctive reduced succulent leaves, which may be modified to form an articulated, photosynthetic stem.’
    • ‘As she observed, it would have been a great convenience if everyone had agreed long ago to call marsh samphire by its alternative name glasswort (given because it used to be burned to provide alkali for glass-makers).’
    • ‘Ungracefully slipping and sliding knee-deep in dark, sticky mud is not food gathering at its most glamorous, yet local people have been collecting marsh samphire between June and September for generations, wherever it is common but especially in East Anglia.’


Mid 16th century (earlier as sampiere): from French (herbe de) Saint Pierre ‘St Peter('s herb)’.