Wakame

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Wakame
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Protista
Division: Heterokontophyta
Class: Phaeophyceae
Order: Laminariales
Family: Alariaceae
Genus: Undaria
Species: U. pinnatifida
Binomial name
Undaria pinnatifida
(Harvey) Suringar, 1873

Wakame (Japanese: わかめ or 若布) is a type of edible kelp. Its scientific name is Undaria pinnatifida.

It is distributed either dried or salted. It is often used in miso soup and salads. In Korea it is called miyeok. It is used in salads, or as the main ingredient in miyeok soup. In China it is called qundaicai. Chinese production is concentrated around Dalian.

In New Zealand Undaria pinnatifida is a very serious weed, and is one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world. It was first discovered in Wellington Harbour in 1987. It probably arrived accidentally in the late 1980s, via shipping from Asia, in ballast water. Native to cold temperate coastal areas of Japan, Korea and China, in recent decades it has also established in France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Argentina and Australia.

Undaria is now found around much of south-eastern New Zealand, and as far north as Auckland. It spreads in two ways. Naturally, through the millions of microscopic spores released by each fertile plant; and attached to vessel hulls and marine farming equipment.

Undaria is a highly successful and fertile species, which makes it a serious invader. However, its impacts are not well understood and are likely to vary, depending on the location.

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