Dulse: Where in the World
habitat and range for dulse

Dulse is a species of red algae native to the North Atlantic coasts of North America and Europe.

Dulse: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on dulse

Palmaria palmata is a member of the Palmariaceae family, and is a type of edible red algae. Dulse grows attached by its discoid holdfast to the stipes of Laminaria or to rocks. It has a short stipe, the fronds are variable and vary in color from deep-rose to reddish-purple and are rather leathery in texture. The flat foliose blade gradually expands and divides into broad segments ranging in size to 50 cm long and 3 cm–8 cm in width which can bear flat wedge-shaped proliferations from the edge.

common names & nomenclature
The common name Dulse is derived from the Irish duileasc, Scottish Gaelic duileasg; Welsh delysg.

Also known as:
dulse, dillisk, dilsk, creathnach, sea lettuce, sea parsley, sea lettuce flakes, red dulse

Dulse: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting dulse

Dulse grows on the northern coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Tetraspores occur in scattered sori on the mature blade, which is diploid. Spermatial sori occur scattered over most of the frond of the haploid male plant. The female gametophyte is very small stunted or encrusted, the carpogonia apparently occurring as single cells in the young plants. The male plants are blade-like and produce spermatia which fertilize the carpogonia of the female crust. After fertilization the diploid plant overgrows the female plant and develops into the tetrasporangial diploid phase attached to the female gametophyte. The adult foliose tetrasporophyte produces tetraspores meiotically. It is therefore usually the diploid tetrasporic phase or the male plant which is to be found on the shore, which is then dried and eaten.

Dulse is harvested in late summer at low tide and spread out on nets to dry in the sun. It is commonly found from June to September and can be picked by hand when the tide is out. When picked, small snails, shell pieces and other small particles can be washed or shaken off and the plant then spread to dry in the sun on rocks. Sun-dried dulse is eaten as is or is ground to flakes or a powder.

Store dried dulse flakes or powder in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Dulse: The Rest of the Story
dulse history, folklore, literature & more

Dulse (Palmaria palmate) is a type of seaweed or, more specifically, a red algae. It grows along the northern Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, where it is harvested in late summer at low tide and spread out on nets to dry in the sun. Dulse is highly prized as a nutritious food in Canada, the northeastern United States, Iceland and Northern Ireland. In fact, it is traditionally served at the annual Auld Lammas Fair in Ballycastle, County Antrim. Along the west coast of Ireland, dillisk, or dried dulse, is sold by street vendors. Similarly, dulse has been a traditional food in Iceland for centuries, where it is known as söl and enjoyed with butter. Other common names for this sea vegetable include dilsk, creathnach, sea lettuce and sea parsley.

Dulse is an abundant source of minerals and vitamins. It contains a significant amount of iron, B complex vitamins and essential trace minerals. It is also high in fiber and protein. Dulse is particularly high in potassium and, as might be expected, iodine. The plant also contains the antioxidant vitamins C and E.

The earliest surviving evidence of dulse being harvested for food was recorded more than 1,400 years ago by the monks of St. Columba Monastery in Derry, Ireland, the settlement that honors the patron saint of the city by the same name. Today, dulse is commonly served as a snack food at cocktail parties, a treat particularly enjoyed by partygoers along the southwestern coast of Ireland.

The seaweed is also recognized as representing umami, or the “fifth taste.” While the concept of umami has been around for centuries, the mechanism that defines it has only recently come to be understood. In short, umami is the distinctive flavor produced when foods that contain free glutamates combine, such as French fries and ketchup. The result is flavor enhancement of both foods experienced on the tongue as savory, as opposed to sweet, salty, sour or hot. Incidentally, Kikunae Ikeda, the same researcher that identified the umami quality of dulse and other seaweeds, was later inspired to develop the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate, or MSG.

Although dulse has only captured the fancy of Americans in fairly recent times, there is no shortage of culinary creativity in its use. In addition to being used as a powdered flavor enhancer and natural alternative to MSG, the dried seaweed is fried in oil to make snack chips, baked with cheese or sauce, spread on sandwiches and pizza, and added to salads, soups and stews.