St. Lawrence species

Winged kelp

Alaria esculenta

Type of resource

  • Algae
  • Brown algae

Other names

Atlantic wakame

Culinary name

Atlantic wakame

Status of the resource

  • Not a cause for concern

In season

Processed all year round. Generally as a dried product.

SIZE : 2,5 m, jusqu’à 5 m de long.

LIFE EXPECTANCY : 4 to 7 years.

LIFE CYCLE : Sexual maturity in the first year of life.

Winged kelp is a fast-growing seaweed. It can grow up to 20 cm per month.

In spring, its fertile blades, called sporophylls, develop on the stipe below the frond.

Reproduction takes place from April to autumn in the North Shore region. In the Gaspé Peninsula, warmer water degrades the fronds, stopping reproduction in June. The sporophylls expel spores that will attach to the seabed. This next generation develops close to their mother plants.

Credit : Richard Larocque, taken in Pointe-au-Père.

Winged kelp is a large, dark green or brown seaweed. It consists of a long, single frond divided by a thick midrib. Its frond is very thin and fragile and can reach 50 cm in width. It has a smooth edge.

Its short stipe ends in a holdfast used to cling to the substrate.

Its fertile parts are found on small, flattened blades attached symmetrically on both sides of the stipe, beneath the frond.

Coastal zone, below the low tide line.

The winged kelp prefers dynamic environments exposed to waves, such as rocky headlands or capes. In fact, it is the first seaweed species to settle on bare substrates.

It favors cold water and will die in water above 16 ° C.


The windged kelp clings to rocks so tightly that sometimes the rock will break, rather than this macro-algae.


Solar energy


Herbivorous molluscs
Grazing fish

MACHINES : Hand harvesting.

A same area can only be harvested once a year. Only every second frond is harvested, to preserve the resource. Cutting the frond 30 cm to 40 cm above the junction with the stipe will allow the wakame to regenerate.

Winged kelp is one of the seaweeds cultivated in the Gaspé region by the Mi’gmaq Wolastoqey Indigenous Fisheries Management Association (MWYFMA).

Credit : Exploramer, photo taken in 2021.

The winged kelp is rich in iodine, calcium, iron, and magnesium, as well as in vitamins A and B. It is also a good source of fiber and protein. A good source of fiber and protein.

Its mild marine taste makes it perfect for enhancing the taste of smoothies, cocktails, and desserts.

Mild vegetal flavor with a hint of hazelnut. Goes well with fish, seafood, and soups.

The whole plant is edible. However, the texture varies between its crunchy, firm midrib and its rather tender leaf.

Its fine frond makes it a particularly popular sea vegetable.

The waters of the St. Lawrence are known for their good quality. However, as algae absorb the elements present in the water in order to grow, it is preferable to make sure that the harvesting site is clean before eating them fresh.

Savvy consumers

In Nunavik, brown seaweed such as the Atlantic wakame, called kuanniq in Inuktitut, is particularly popular. They are eaten fresh.