Pickle Weed    Salicornia virginica

This interesting plant grows in the high intertidal zone in dense mats where it is covered by salt water only once or twice a day.  Pickle weed is found in sheltered areas with little strong wave action.  

It's thick, fleshy stems are unique and their high sodium content help the plant tolerate life in an environment high in salt.  

The reddish stems are probably a combination of new growth as well as stems from a closely related, annual species with the scientific name of Salicornia europea.  The plant will die back in the winter to woody stems.

The young stems are sometimes referred to as " sea asparagus" and eaten.  It is usually cooked by steaming or in a microwave oven then coated with butter.

Up until the late 1700's, pickle weed was burned to produce a soda ash used in glass making.