AskDefine | Define kelp

Dictionary Definition

kelp n : large brown seaweeds having fluted leathery fronds

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Pronunciation

  • /kɛlp/

Noun

  1. any of several large brown seaweeds (order Laminariales).

Translations

large seaweed

Extensive Definition

Kelp are large seaweeds (algae), belonging to the brown algae and classified in the order Laminariales. Despite their appearance, some scientists group them not with the terrestrial plants (kingdom Plantae), but instead place them either in kingdom Protista or in kingdom Chromista. There are about 30 different genera. Kelp grows in underwater forests (kelp forests) in clear, shallow oceans, requiring nutrient-rich water below about 20 °C. It is known for its high growth rate — the genus Macrocystis and Nereocystis luetkeana grow as fast as half a metre a day, ultimately reaching 30 to 80 m.
Through the 19th Century, the word "kelp" was closely associated with seaweeds that could be burned to obtain soda ash (primarily sodium carbonate). The seaweeds used included species from both the orders Laminariales and Fucales. The word "kelp" was also used directly to refer to these processed ashes.

Morphology

In most kelp, the thallus (or body) consists of flat or leaf-like structures known as blades. Blades originate from elongated stem-like structures, the stipes. The holdfast, a root-like structure, anchors the kelp to the substrate of the ocean. Gas-filled bladders (pneumatocysts) form at the base of blades of American species, such as Nereocystis lueteana (Mert.& Post & Rupr.) Alginate, a kelp-derived carbohydrate, is used to thicken products such as ice cream, jelly, salad dressing, and toothpaste, as well as an ingredient in exotic dog food and in manufactured goods.Another use of kelp is it is extremly absorbent and is somtimes used in towls. Giant kelp can be harvested fairly easily because of its surface canopy and growth habit of staying in deeper water.
Kelp is also used frequently in seaweed fertiliser, especially in the Channel Islands, where it is known as vraic.
Kombu (Laminaria japonica and others), several Pacific species of kelp, is a very important ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Kombu is used to flavor broths and stews (especially dashi), as a savory garnish (tororo konbu) for rice and other dishes, as a vegetable, and a primary ingredient in popular snacks (such as tsukudani). Transparent sheets of kelp (oboro konbu) are used as an edible decorative wrapping for rice and other foods.
Kombu can be used to soften beans during cooking, and to help convert indigestible sugars and thus reduce flatulence.

Kelp in history and culture

During the Highland Clearances, many Scottish Highlanders were moved off their crofts, and went to industries such as fishing and kelping (producing soda ash from the ashes of kelp). At least until the 1820s, when there were steep falls in the price of kelp, landlords wanted to create pools of cheap or virtually free labour, supplied by families subsisting in new crofting townships. Kelp collection and processing was a very profitable way of using this labour, and landlords petitioned successfully for legislation designed to stop emigration. But the economic collapse of the kelp industry in northern Scotland led to further emigration, especially to North America.
Natives of the Falkland Islands are sometimes nicknamed "Kelpers". The name is primarily applied by outsiders, rather than the natives themselves
See the article on seaweed fertiliser.

Endangerment

Overfishing nearshore ecosystems leads to the degradation of kelp forests. Herbivores are released from their usual population regulation, leading to over-grazing of kelp and other algae. This can quickly result in barren landscapes, ones in which a small amount of species can thrive.

Prominent species

Species of Laminaria in the British Isles

  • Laminaria digitata (Hudson) J.V. Lamouroux (Oarweed; Tangle)
  • Laminaria hyperborea (Gunnerus) Foslie (Curvie)
  • Laminaria ochroleuca Bachelot de la Pylaie
  • Laminaria saccharina (Linnaeus) J.V.Lamouroux (sea belt; sugar kelp; sugarwack)

Species of Laminaria world-wide

A comprehensive listing of species in Laminariales and nearly all other algae orders is publicly accessible at http://www.algaebase.org.

Other genera in the Laminariales which may be considered as kelp.

Interactions

Some animals are named after the kelp, either because they inhabit the same habitat as kelp or because they feed on kelp. These include:

References

See also

External links

kelp in German: Laminariales
kelp in Spanish: Laminariales
kelp in French: Kelp
kelp in Norwegian: Tarer
kelp in Polish: Listownicowce
kelp in Simple English: Kelp
kelp in Swedish: Kelp
kelp in Turkish: Kelp

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

algae, autophyte, bean, bracken, brown algae, climber, conferva, confervoid, creeper, diatom, fern, fruits and vegetables, fucus, fungus, grapevine, green algae, gulfweed, herb, heterophyte, ivy, legume, lentil, liana, lichen, liverwort, mold, moss, mushroom, parasite, parasitic plant, pea, perthophyte, phytoplankton, planktonic algae, plant families, puffball, pulse, red algae, rockweed, rust, saprophyte, sargasso, sargassum, sea lentil, sea moss, sea wrack, seaweed, smut, succulent, toadstool, vetch, vine, wort, wrack
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