Seeds of the halophyte Crithmum maritimum L. were exposed to salt stress and chemical pretreatments in order to improve germination. Seeds submitted to salt stress did not germinate but they recovered rapidly upon transfer to distilled water, recovery being higher after a low salinity pretreatment. Chemical treatments resulted in differential effects on seed germination. Known dormancy breakers such as potassium nitrate and thiourea had no effect on sea fennel seed germination. Conversely, L-ascorbic acid (40 or 60 mM) and ethanol (96%) significantly improved germination rate by 10, 30 and 30%, respectively. Pretreatment of seeds with L-ascorbic acid at 40 mM was shown to alleviate the negative effects of low NaCl concentration on germination. These findings indicate that the application of ascorbic acid may be used to improve sea fennel seed germination, which is of great interest for cultivating this plant.