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Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Chromalveolata
Division: Heterokontophyta
Class: Phaeophyceae
Order: Laminariales
Family: Alariaceae
Genus: Undaria
Species: U. pinnatifida
Binomial name
Undaria pinnatifida
(Harvey) Suringar, 1873
Wakame, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 188 kJ (45 kcal)
9.14 g
Sugars 0.65 g
Dietary fiber 0.5 g
0.64 g
3.03 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.06 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.23 mg
Niacin (B3)
1.6 mg
0.697 mg
Folate (B9)
196 μg
Vitamin C
3 mg
Vitamin E
1 mg
Vitamin K
5.3 μg
150 mg
2.18 mg
107 mg
1.4 mg
80 mg
872 mg
0.38 mg

Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Wakame (ワカメ wakame) is a sea vegetable, or edible seaweed. It has a subtly sweet flavour and is most often served in soups and salads.

Sea-farmers have grown wakame in Japan from the Nara period.[1] It has been nominated as among 100 of the world's worst invasive species according to the Global Invasive Species Database.[2]


  • Names 1
  • History in the West 2
  • Health 3
  • Aquaculture 4
  • Cuisine 5
  • Invasive species 6
    • New Zealand 6.1
    • United States 6.2
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The name "wakame" was derived from the Japanese name wakame (ワカメ, わかめ, 若布, 和布).[3][4]

  • In English, it can be called "sea mustard".
  • In China, it is called qúndài cài (裙带菜).[5]
  • In French, it is called "wakamé" or "fougère des mers".
  • In Korea, it is called miyeok (미역)[5]

History in the West

In 1867 the word "wakame" appeared in an English-language publication, A Japanese and English Dictionary, by James C. Hepburn.[6]

Starting in the 1960s, the word "wakame" started to be used widely in the United States, and the product (imported in dried form Japan) became widely available at natural food stores and Asian-American grocery stores, due to the influence of the macrobiotic movement, and in the 1970s with the growing number of Japanese restaurants and sushi bars.


New studies conducted at UCP1 protein was significantly increased in mice fed fucoxanthin. Wakame is also used in topical beauty treatments. See also Fucoidan.

Wakame is a rich source of eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. At over 400 mg/100 kcal or almost 1 mg/kJ, it has one of the higher nutrient:calorie ratios for this nutrient, and among the very highest for a vegetarian source.[8] A typical 1-2 tablespoon serving of wakame contains roughly 3.75–7.5 kcal and provides 15–30 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. Wakame also has high levels of sodium, calcium, iodine, thiamine and niacin.


  • Wakame Seaweed at
  • AlgaeBase link
  • Undaria pinnatifida at the FAO
  • Undaria pinnatifida at the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, UK
  • Global Invasive species database
  • Undaria Management at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

External links

  • James K, Middleton I, Middleton C, Shears NT (2014) Discovery of Undaria pinnatifida (Harvey) Suringar, 1873 in northern New Zealand indicates increased invasion threat in subtropical regions. BioInvasions Rec 3(1):21-24.
  1. ^ Man'yōshū "比多潟の 磯のわかめの 立ち乱え 我をか待つなも 昨夜も今夜も" (Poetry on the theme of Wakame)
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Undaria pinnatifida
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ James, K., Kibele, J., & Shears, N. T. (2015). Using satellite-derived sea surface temperature to predict the potential global range and phenology of the invasive kelp Undaria pinnatifida. Biological Invasions, 1-16 /10.1007/s10530-015-0965-5
  15. ^ Hay C.H, Luckens PA (1987) The Asian kelp U. pinnatifida (Phaeophyta:Laminariales) found in New Zealand harbour. New Zealand Journal of Botany 25: 329-332
  16. ^ James K, Middleton I, Middleton C, Shears NT (2014) Discovery of Undaria pinnatifida (Harvey) Suringar, 1873 in northern New Zealand indicates increased invasion threat in subtropical regions. BioInvasions Rec 3(1):21-24
  17. ^
  18. ^ Kay, J. Kelp among top 10 invasive seaweeds hits S.F. San Francisco Chronicle July 8, 2009.
  19. ^ Perlman, D. Divers battle fast-growing alien kelp in bay San Francisco Chronicle July 9, 2009.
  20. ^ "An Underwater Fight Is Waged for the Health of San Francisco Bay" article by Malia Wollan in The New York Times August 1, 2009


See also

The sea plant has been found in several harbors in southern California. In May 2009 it was discovered in San Francisco Bay and aggressive efforts are underway to remove it before it spreads.[18][19][20]

United States

Even though it is an invasive species, in 2012 the government allowed for the farming of wakame in Wellington, Marlborough and Banks Peninsula.[17]

Wakame is now found around much of New Zealand, from Stewart Island to as far north as invader. However, its impacts are not well understood and vary depending on the location.

In New Zealand, Undaria pinnatifida was declared as an unwanted organism in 2000 under the Biosecurity Act 1993. It was first discovered in Wellington Harbour in 1987 and probably arrived as hull fouling on shipping or fishing vessels from Asia.[15]

New Zealand

Native to cold temperate coastal areas of Japan, Korea, and China, in recent decades it has become established in temperate regions around the world, including New Zealand, the United States, France, Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Australia and Mexico.[13] [14] It was nominated one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world.[2]

Undaria pinnatifida growth stages, from new recruits to young adults. Specimens from Monterey Harbor, California.

Invasive species

Goma wakame, also known as seaweed salad, is a popular side dish at American and European sushi restaurants. Literally translated, it means "sesame seaweed", as sesame seeds are usually included in the recipe.

In Japan and Europe, wakame is distributed either dried or salted, and used in soups (particularly miso soup), and salads (tofu salad), or often simply as a side dish to tofu and a salad vegetable like cucumber. These dishes are typically dressed with soy sauce and vinegar/rice vinegar.

Wakame fronds are green and have a subtly sweet flavour and satiny texture. The leaves should be cut into small pieces as they will expand during cooking.


Wild grown wakame is harvested in Tasmania, Australia, and then sold in restaurants in Sydney[11] and also sustainably hand-harvested from the waters of Foveaux Strait in Southland, New Zealand and freeze-dried for retail and use in a range of products.[12]

Japanese and Korean sea-farmers have grown wakame for centuries, and are still both the leading producers and consumers. Wakame has also cultivated in France since 1983, in sea fields established near the shores of Brittany.[10]


In Korea, the wakame soup miyeokguk is popularly consumed by women after giving birth as miyeok contains a high content of calcium and iodine, nutrients that are important for nursing new mothers. Many women consume it during the pregnancy phase as well. It is also traditionally eaten on birthdays for this reason, a reminder of the first food that the mother has eaten and passed on to her newborn through her milk, thus bringing good fortune for the rest of the year.


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