Among edible wild herbs, halophytes include salt-resistant plants equipped with well-defined adaptive mechanisms that enable them not only to withstand periodic high salinity but also to complete their entire life cycles at high salinity. Wild or partially domesticated halophytes already exist in virtually all regional ecosystems, especially in the Mediterranean basin. Among halophytes, Crithmum maritimum L., commonly known as sea fennel, rock samphire or St. Peter’s herb, grows spontaneously along coastlines and is particularly abundant in Mediterranean countries, including Italy, North Africa, Croatia, Turkey, and Greece. This plant has several usage areas, such as culinary, medicine, and cosmetics, because of its nutrient and phytochemical contents (Ashaolu & Reale, 2020). Due to the acknowledged high content of vitamin C, the consumption of sea fennel was particularly common among seafarers as a valuable aid for the prevention of scurvy.
The FENNEL4MED project has been built up on the following assumptions. The world is presently over-dependent on a few plant species for the supply of staple foods. Diversification of production and consumption habits to include a broader range of undervalued and underused plant species could significantly contribute to improving human health and nutrition while increasing livelihoods and environmental sustainability in the Mediterranean. Edible wild herbs have traditionally played an important role in supplementing staple foods, and they might do so again in the future. Indeed, given their innate resilience to rapid climate change, they could play an increasingly important role in buffering against food shortage due to periods of low agricultural productivity associated with climate events. Among edible wild herbs, halophytes include salt-resistant plants equipped with well-defined adaptive mechanisms that enable them not only to withstand periodical high salinity, but also to complete their entire lifecycles under saline conditions.