Kelp is an important part of the present day Japanese diet, being used in salads, as a garnish, and in soups, sauces, and cakes, as well as to make noodles (Wurges and Frey 2005).
Kelp grows in underwater "forests" (kelp forests) in clear, shallow oceans.
Until the Leblanc process was commercialized in the early 1800s, burning of kelp in Scotland was one of the principal industrial sources of soda ash (predominantly sodium carbonate) (Clow and Clow 1952).
The word "kelp" was also used directly to refer to these processed ashes.
Kelp ash is rich in iodine and alkali.
Kelp has been eaten for its nutritional value or for medicine for thousands of years, with the Chinese using it as far back as 3,000 B.C.E.
Kelp provides a variety of commercial uses, as well as being used in various cuisines and for medicinal purposes.
Kelp is also thought to reduce cholesterol levels.
Kelp does have a plant-like appearance, having tentacle-like roots from which grows a slender stalk with long, flat, leaf-like blades (Wurges and Frey 2005).
The kelp life cycle involves a diploid sporophyte and haploid gametophyte stage.
Kelp is a type of seaweed, often large, within the order Laminariales of the brown algae.
Some species grow very long and form kelp forests.
Kelp is a rich source of iodine, calcium, and sulfur, and a good source of iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and the vitamins A, D, E, K, and B complex.
Kelp is also used frequently in seaweed fertilizer, especially in the Channel Islands, where it is known as vraic.
Kelp often is recommended today by naturopaths and herbalists for various conditions, such as thyroid disorders.
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.
Kelp is the common name for any of the large seaweeds comprising the order Laminariales within the brown algae (class Phaeophyceae).
Kombu (Laminaria japonica and others), several Pacific species of kelp, is a very important ingredient in Japanese cuisine.
Kelp forests are underwater areas in temperate and polar coastal oceans with a high density of kelp and are recognized as one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems on earth.
Transparent sheets of kelp (oboro konbu) are used as an edible decorative wrapping for rice and other foods (Kazuko 2002).
The main constituents of kelp are mucopolysaccharides, algin, phenolic compounds, polar lipids, and glycosyl ester diglycerides, as well as protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and about thirty minerals (Wurges and Frey 2005).
Giant kelp can be harvested fairly easily because of its surface canopy and growth habit of staying in deeper water.
Ecologically, kelp provide a physical substrate and habitat for animals, as well as food for such aquatic organisms as sea urchins, seastars, isopods, kelp crabs, and herbivorous fishes.