Biodiversity & Conservation

Alaria esculenta on exposed sublittoral fringe bedrock



Image Roger Mitchell - Exposed sublittoral fringe bedrock with Alaria esculenta, Isles of Scilly. Image width ca 1 m.
Image copyright information

Distribution map

IR.EIR.KFaR.Ala recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats

Marine natural heritage importance

Listed under EC Habitats Directive
National importance Widespread
Habitat Directive feature (Annex 1) Reefs

Biotope importance

Corallina officinalis turf provides substratum for various epiphytes and supports a diverse, species rich invertebrate community due to its provision of interstices and build up of sediment within its fronds. This community includes amphipods, isopods, harpaticoid copepods, amphipods, ostracods and the serpulid Spirorbis corallinae which is rarely found on other algae. In wave exposed conditions Corallina officinalis forms a compact turf and supports a reduced fauna dominated by forms more tolerant of wave action (Crisp & Mwaiseje 1989; Bamber & Irving 1993; Dommasnes 1968; Hull 1997; Grahame & Hanna 1989).


  • Alaria esculenta was farmed by rope culture off the Isle of Man during the 1980s and early 1990s (Guiry & Blunden 1991; Tim Hill pers. comm.).
  • It is eaten fresh or cooked in Greenland, Iceland, Scotland and Ireland.
  • It may be used as a fodder additive and is grazed by sheep in Orkney.
  • It is collected in Ireland and sold as a health food 'Atlantic Wakame'
  • Corallina officinalis was used in Europe as a vermifuge although it no longer seems to be collected for this purpose (Guiry & Blunden 1991).
  • Corallina officinalis is collected for medical purposes; the fronds are dried and converted to hydroxyapatite and used as bone forming material (Ewers et al. 1987). It is also sold as a powder for use in the cosmetic industry.
  • An European research proposal for cultivation of Corallina officinalis is pending (Thomas Wiedemann pers. comm.).

Additional information icon Additional information

No text entered

This review can be cited as follows:

Tyler-Walters, H. 2000. Alaria esculenta on exposed sublittoral fringe bedrock. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 27/11/2015]. Available from: <>