Bladderwrack: Where in the World
habitat and range for bladderwrack

Bladderwrack is a seaweed found on the coasts of the North Sea, the western Baltic Sea, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Bladderwrack: A Bit of Botany
some botanical information for bladderwrack

Bladderwrack is a perennial plant of the Fucaceae family ranging in color from light yellow to brownish-green and grows up to 2-3 feet in length. Bladderwrack leaves are fan shaped and it attaches itself to rocks via root-like extremities growing from its leathery stalk.

Bladderwrack has flattened, branching fronds, which have an obvious midrib, and are covered with spherical air bladders, which tend to occur in pairs on either side of the mid-rib. In small plants, however, air bladders may be entirely absent. Forked and pointed reproductive structures occur at the tips of the fronds.

The appearance of bladderwrack varies depending on the environmental conditions in which it occurs; in more sheltered areas there are many air bladders, whereas there are fewer in more exposed conditions. In very exposed areas, a form of bladder wrack may arise, which completely lacks bladders.

common names
& nomenclature

"Vesiculosus" is from the Latin and means covered with little bladders or blisters.

A general West Germanic borrowing, cf. Old Frisian bete, Middle Dutch bete, Old High German bieza, German Beete.

Also known as:
bladder wrack, lady wrack, sea ware, bladder wrack rockweed, kelp, seawrack, kelpware, black-tang, bladder fucus, cutweed, seaweed, sea oak, black tany, cutweed, fucus sea-wrack, kelp-ware, black-tang, quercus marina, cutweed, bladder fucus, fucus vesiculeux, blasentang, seetang, and meeriche

Bladderwrack: Cultivation & Harvesting
how bladderwrack grows and is harvested

Bladderwrack is a seaweed found in the cold waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Bladderwrack has separate male and female plants, and reproduction takes place once a year. Sex cells are produced in structures known as 'receptacles' located at the tips of the fronds. Eggs and sperm are released simultaneously into the water; the eggs release a pheromone that attracts the sperm, and fertilization occurs externally. The fertilized egg settles to the substrate where it becomes attached after just a few hours.

Harvest by picking the freshest bladderwrack possible. Make certain that the plant is still alive and attached to its anchor—it's best to collect at the low tide mark or in rock pools. If at all possible the bladderwrack should simply be sun-dried as this gives maximal flavor and nutrient retention.

When dry, bladderwrack can be cut into pieces or powdered and stored in air-tight boxes, it can also be frozen for future use.

Bladderwrack: The Rest of the Story
bladderwrack history, folklore, literature & more

bladderwrack basics
Bladderwrack has a funny name, but it doesn't really match all that it can do. It's actually algae that gets its name from the small air-filled pockets, or bladders, that actually help it to float. But its name doesn’t have much to do with its actual uses for the body.

Much of what bladderwrack does best is actually in the digestive tract. There are several conditions that it can treat. For example, if you’re suffering from constipation, bladderwrack can help to get your digestive system moving again and bring you relief. At the same time, bladderwrack is also used for people suffering from diarrhea. It actually helps restore normal function to the system so that it will work properly.

No one who suffers from heartburn enjoys it. In fact, the pain and burning some of the most miserable feelings you can experience. Bladderwrack can come to the rescue. If you suffer from heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), bladderwrack can help to relieve your symptoms. You’ll be able to eat your favorite foods without having to suffer later.

If your thyroid is running a little slow, bladderwrack can also help to support normal function. You may want to talk with your healthcare provider to make sure you don’t have a negative interaction with medication you’re already taking. You don’t want to speed things up too much at once. It’s possible that bladderwrack may enhance your metabolism and help you to lose weight more rapidly as well.

The major ingredient in bladderwrack is iodine. While most people in the world have iodized salt that prevents problems, bladderwrack can be a good alternative to that. Iodine is essential in helping the thyroid to work properly. In fact, people with iodine deficiencies often have a thyroid disease called goiter. Of course, avoid bladderwrack if you're allergic to iodine.

Topically, bladderwrack makes a great herb for treating wounds. It helps you to heal faster from minor skin irritations, cuts, and scrapes.

If you’re interested in adding bladderwrack to your herbal repertoire, you can take it in several ways. Most people enjoy it in a tea that is steeped for at least 10 minutes. You may also enjoy taking the herb in capsules or powder form.

What's interesting is that bladderwrack doesn't actually help to keep the bladder healthier. This is one case where the name of the herb doesn't match its function. But if you have problems with metabolism or your digestive system, you'll want to give bladderwrack a try.