Fucus: Like “mucous” with an “f”

On a recent trip to Southeast Alaska, we took a guided, three-day kayak expedition to some of the islands around Sitka. We were in town for the Sitka Seafood Festival and had enjoyed glorious weather–sunny, warm, the whole nine yards–in the days leading up to the kayak expedition.

During the camping portion of the trip, though, we experienced the temperate rain forest in all its soggy glory. Feeling rain drops filter through old growth Sitka spruce and hemlock onto the lush understory below was akin to entering a cathedral, and the grey mist made the yellows and greens of aquatic plants that much more vibrant.

Our incredibly patient and good-hearted guide pointed out many edible plants along the way, including beach asparagus (salicornia), bull kelp (nereocystis luetkeana), and fucus (also known as bladderwrack). He’s also the one who mentioned the handy mnemonic for the pronunciation of “fucus.” Although sadly we didn’t get to try any of these edibles–we were too busy eating the wonderful food provided on the expedition–I’m looking forward to exploring foraging sites here in Washington.

Further reading: Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska’s Tongass Rain Forest


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