Kelp: Where in the World
habitat and range for kelp

Ascophyllum nodosum is seaweed of the northern Atlantic Ocean, it is common on the north-western coast of Europe (from Svalbard to Portugal) including east Greenland and the north-eastern coast of North America.

Kelp: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on kelp

Ascophyllum nodosum is a large, common brown alga of the Fucaceae family, it has long fronds with large egg-shaped air-bladders set in series at regular intervals in the fronds and not stalked. The fronds can reach 2 m in length and are attached to rocks and boulders. The fronds are olive-brown in color and somewhat compressed but without a mid-rib. Its history is of one diploid plant and gametes. The gametes are produced in conceptacles embedded in yellowish receptacles on short branches.

common names & nomenclature
The common name cut weed refers to the way the plant is harvested—being cut from the rocks to which it attaches.

Also known as:
kelp, rockweed, norwegian kelp, knotted kelp, knotted wrack, egg wrack, cut weed, bladderwrack, seawrack, sea-tang, seaweed

Kelp: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting kelp

Ascophyllum nodosum is found mostly on sheltered sites on ocean shores in the mid-littoral where it can become the dominant species. Often found in a range of coastal habitats from sheltered estuaries to moderately exposed coasts.

Kelp is an aquatic plant that grows in the ocean attached to rocks.

Kelp attaches itself to rocks and boulders in the ocean using a structure called a “holdfast”. It grows upwards in the water.

During low tide, kelp is cut off the exposed rocks where it grows. The species is predominantly hand-harvested using sickles, knives and various cutting and raking tools. Harvesting is done both from the shore and by boat. It can be cut from rocks while the plants are suspended using small boats and cutting rakes to minimize the disturbance of the plants. Mechanical “cutter rakes” have also been used in the harvest process.

Kelp is dried and made into granules or powder, store dried kelp in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Kelp: The Rest of the Story
kelp history, folklore, literature & more

Kelp is a type of seaweed, specifically long-frond brown algae, which grows to lengths of 200 feet off Japan, Europe, and North America.

Ancient seafarers were well acquainted with the kelp beds off England and France. Early fisherman burned the plant for fuel and wrapped, baked, and ate fish in it. Unlike the Japanese, who eat a great deal of seaweed, Europeans never developed much taste for kelp.

For several decades, Europeans and North Americans harvested kelp for its iodine. The fronds were cut off exposed rocks at low tide, hence one popular name cut weed. Eventually other iodine sources replaced kelp, and the harvesting ceased.

Kelp is definitely high in iodine. Back in the days before iodized salt, when iodine deficiency was a real problem, kelp was a real blessing. But today, iodine deficiency is virtually unheard of in developed countries. To function normally, the body needs only a minute amount of iodine (150 micrograms a day)—an amount more than supplied by iodized salt. Additional iodine has no significant effect-until you consume enough to cause iodism, which is almost impossible just from eating kelp.

Kelp grows in the cold water off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North America. It has a strong, foul odor when fresh, but baking deodorizes it. Authorities discourage using kelp collected close to shore because it may be contaminated by industrial pollutants. If you use kelp, buy it from commercial sources.