Sweet Kelp (Saccharina lattisima)

Sweet Kelp – Saccharina latissima previously known as Laminaria saccharina

Scientific Classification :

Sweet kelp / kombu royale Laminara saccharina Finvarra (Prof Michael Guiry)

Sweet kelp / kombu royale Laminara saccharina Finvarra (Prof Michael Guiry)

Phyllum : Heterokontophyta

Class : Phaeophyceae

Order : Laminariales

Family : Laminariaceae

Genus : Saccharina

Species : Saccharina latissima (Linnaeus) Lamouroux

Common Names : Sweet Kelp, Kombu Royale, Sugar Kelp, Sea Belt, Poor Man’s Weather Glass

Distribution :

Sweet kelp – Saccharina latissima – Laminaria saccharina – is a common brown seaweed – a kelp – found on the lower shore in the North Atlantic from the Barents Sea to Galicia on the coast of Spain.

It grows in various places – from 10ms of clear water to the semi exposed shores of estuaries. It tends to grow in patches and along the water’s edge. It is notably absent from exposed shores.

Description :

Sweet Kelp – Kombu royale – Saccharina latissima – Laminaria saccharina – is a brown seaweed / algae that grows to 2m to 4m in length. It has a very short stipe. It has an elongated frilly, crinkled frond. It can vary in colour from dark brown to yellowish brown.

It is not to be confused with Alaria esculenta – which has a distinctive midrib. (Or indeed a crocodile!! as my cousin once thought, one trip to the beach, many many moons ago! )

History and Uses :

The plant has a tendency to go limp when humidity is increased and becomes dry and brittle when humidity decreases – therefore it was known as the Poor Man’s Weather Glass – and used to predict the weather.

Traditionally Sweet Kelp – Saccharina latissima was harvested for use along with the total drift weed, for fertiliser.

On the Orkney Island (Scotland) of North Ronaldsay, there is a breed of sheep that spends several months of the year eating seaweed – particularly Saccharina latissima and this then comes through in it’s meat – a sweet taste.

Sweet kelp – Saccahrina latissima – as it dries, the sugars (mannitol) from within the plant come to the surface – this forms a white powder on the plant surface.

Today it is mainly used as either a sea vegetable ( edible seaweed ) or as an extract for the cosmetic industry for skin protection.

As a sea vegetable its used mainly for its sweet taste and flavour and can be used like other kelps.

See our recipe page