Ecklonia bicyclis

Ecklonia bicyclis

Arame (Ecklonia bicyclis Kjellman, 1885) is an alga belonging to the Lessoniaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view, it belongs to:
Eukaryota Domain,
United Kingdom Chromista,
Superphylum Heterokontophyta,
Phylum Ochrophyta,
Phaeophyta class,
Subclass Fucophycidae,
Order Laminariales,
Family Lessoniaceae,
Genus Ecklonia,
E. bicycles species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Eisenia bicyclis (Kjellman) Setchell, 1905;
– Eisenia arborea f. bicyclis (Kjellman) Yendo, 1911.

Etymology –
The term Ecklonia was given in honor of Christian Friedrich Ecklon (1795-1868). Danish pharmacist, botanist and plant collector and one of the earliest botanical explorers of the Cape of Good Hope.
The bicyclis epithet is unclear.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Ecklonia bicyclis is an edible brown alga, native to the temperate waters of the Pacific Ocean located near Japan, especially near Yokohama and Nagasaki, though it is deliberately cultivated elsewhere, including South Korea, Peru, and the northern Pacific coast.
Its growth habitat is that of semi-emerging rocky areas where it grows attached to the rocks, under the surface of the water.

Description –
Arrame is a brown alga that grows and reproduces seasonally.
The stem is made up of a hard legible stem, which can be up to about 1 meter high; This shrimp forms and raises two flattened oval fronds that are in wavy strips, about 30 cm long and 4 cm wide.
The brown, grayish – greenish-brown, appears both branched and feathered.

Cultivation –
Arram is an alga that lives attached to rocks just below the surface of the shallower water.
It can be harvested by divers manually or mechanically, and the dried form is available all year round.
In the past, it was hand-picked by groups of women.
Today, it is harvested for edible use, especially in Japanese cuisine.

Customs and Traditions –
Ecklonia bicyclis is a type of brown seaweed that cuts into thin strips, cooked, and dried in the sun after being harvested.
It is one of the many species of seaweed used in Asian cuisine.
It is usually bought in the dried state, it reconstitutes quickly, taking about five minutes. It has a mild, semi-sweet flavor and firm texture. It is added to appetizers, flans, muffins, pilaf, soups, toasts and many other types of food. Its delicate flavor makes it adaptable to many uses.
This seaweed is rich in calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, and vitamin A, as well as being a dietary source of many other minerals. It is also harvested to obtain alginate, fertilizer, and iodide. It contains laminarine polysaccharide and eisenin tripeptide, a peptide with immunological activity.
Ecklonia bicyclis is particularly rich in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant, and considerable amounts of iodine.
It is used in a variety of ways, both in cosmetics and in the kitchen. Among the algae from the East, Arame is the most pleasing to the Western palate, as it is more delicate, sweeter, and less strong than other algae.
In herbal medicine, it is regarded as one of the best adaptogens – that is, it helps to correct some disorders of the body.
It is also hypotensive and can help to reduce high blood pressure. Its iodine content regulates thyroid and metabolic activity. In the past, it was used as a remedy to treat ailments of female reproductive organs. Recent studies show that it is also effective in combating male impotence.
Among the contraindications of the seaweed, given the iodine content, we mention the case of hyperthyroidism and it should still be taken with caution even in cases of presumed impaired thyroid function.
This seaweed has anti-oxidant action 30 times more powerful than green tea, and is capable of neutralizing the damage caused by ultraviolet rays.

Preparation Method –
Arame, widely used in oriental cuisine and among the most appreciated also by the tastes of western cuisine, is the ideal, as mentioned, to accompany tofu, tempeh and ground vegetables and also in combination with a vinegar sauce and of soy.
The fronds are hard and like those of Hijiki (another seaweed) they are boiled for several hours, so it is advisable to cut them into very small strips; they require a short soak before cooking, until they double in volume.
Unlike the Hijiki, the arame is softer and has a more delicate and sweet flavor. This is due to the presence of a natural non-calorie sugar, mannitol, present in many brown algae.
For this reason, arame can be added to soups and salads, or it can be steamed or boiled and eaten on its own.

Guido Bissanti

Sources
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. La Salute dal Farmacia del Lad, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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