Alaria esculenta is a distinctive kelp with its pronounced yellow mid-rib, a continuation of its rounded stipe. Its colour varies from golden to greenish brown, and often appears damaged, having lost or torn parts of the blade through storm damage. The stipe is short and fleshy, with small ‘leaflets, growing from the base; these are the reproductive structures, known as sporophylls, their protected position at the base means a lesser risk of damage. Normal length for A. esculenta is around 2m, but in locations protected from surf they may reach up to 4m in length.
- esculenta is a common kelp of exposed rocky coasts in Europe and North America. It has been recorded at exposed sites around the UK and Ireland, except for some areas of the east coast of each. It is generally found on the extreme low water mark, on rocky substrate. It tends to prefer small gullies and often can be found hanging from sheer surfaces or in the lee of large boulders. It often appears mixed with L. digitata and other low water species.
- esculenta has a slightly sweet taste, and is often known as Atlantic Wakame. It has been collected for many years in Ireland through hand harvest and sold as a sea vegetable, and to a lesser extent in Scotland and other parts of the UK. It has been used in the past as an additive to animal feed.
Species specific food safety considerations
- No specific considerations, but as with other kelps there is the risk of active bioaccumulation of heavy metals
- Alaria esculenta has high levels of Vitamin B6, Vitamin K, Iodine and Bromine – typical protein values range from 9-20%, fat at 1-2% and carbohydrates around 45%