In Australia there is a tendency to call any Seaweed “kelp”.
This is reinforced by agricultural companies, meant to be experts in their field, who talk about kelp as if it is the only Seaweed in the world.
At Seaweed Enterprises Australia we don’t sell Kelp.
We sell Ascophyllum nodosum, and I’m going to explain to you the difference.
Across the world there are around 10,000 species of Seaweed.
These are broken into 3 groups – brown, red and green.
The largest group by far is Red, with about 6,500 species. It includes medicinal species such as Dulse and Irish Moss.
Green seaweeds can grow in both salt and fresh water and include edible seaweeds such as wakame. They are believed to be the ancestors of land plants.
The Brown Seaweeds have around 1800 species - Ascophyllum nodosum and kelp both belong to this group.
But this is where the similarities between Ascophyllum nodosum and Kelp come to an end.
Kelps are generally huge Seaweeds that grow in deep water. In Tasmania there are “forests” of Bull Kelp, Durvillea potatorum, that are eco-systems in their own right, providing food and shelter for other marine life. These huge kelp forests are protected and cannot be harvested, and so the Tasmanian seaweed industry relies on storms to break the kelp off and wash it up onto beaches where it is collected. Tasmanian seaweed collectors need to be quick to harvest the kelp from the beach before it begins to decompose.
Ascophyllum is a smaller, softer Seaweed that grows on rocks in coastal zones between high and low tide. It grows in freezing waters of the Atlantic Ocean below the Arctic Circle and is harvested in Norway, Scotland, Iceland and Canada.
Our Seaperia seaweed comes from Norway where it is sustainably fresh harvested under strict environmental standards. You can read more about the Norwegian seaweed industry in another article we wrote here.
Ascophyllum nodosum is the most studied Seaweed in the world, and is proven scientifically and in field trials to be the best, most effective Seaweed for agriculture.
Both kelp and Ascophyllum nodosum can be bought as a dry meal to supplement animals as well as sprayable products for crops.
There are a number of other species of Brown Seaweed that are used in agricultural products – Laminaria and Sargassum are two of the most common.
If you look at the label on these products though, you will find that these products always also contain Ascophyllum nodosum. And that’s because, while those other Seaweeds are cheap, Ascophyllum nodosum is the one that really makes a big difference to animal and plant health.
Cheap products almost always have a certain percentage of Ascophyllum nodosum to ensure the product has some kick!
That is why we only sell pure Ascophyllum nodosum.
Seaperia is one hundred percent pure Ascophyllum nodosum - the best Seaweed you can buy.
So next time you’re talking Seaweed with someone show them you know what you’re talking about.
If you want Tasmanian Durvillea potatorum ask for kelp, but if you want the Superior Seaweed make sure you ask for Ascophyllum nodosum.
Seaweed Enterprises Australia – we’ve been the Seaweed Experts since 1974.
Top photo, Ascophyllum nodosum - courtesy Algea of Norway.
Bottom photo, Tasmanian Bull Kelp - ABC photo.
Blog post by Liz
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