Alga marina (L.) Lam.
Zostera latifolia Morong
Zostera maritima Gaertn.
Zostera oregana S.Watson
Zostera pacifica S.Watson
Zostera stenophylla Raf.
Common Name: Eel Grass
Zostera marina is a perennial plant growing from a thick, creeping underground stem (rhizome), 2 to 5 cm long, with many roots and nodes spaced 10 to 35mm apart. Alternate ribbon-like leaves with rounded tips arise from these nodes and grow up to 120cm long and 2 - 12mm wide[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
This species is widespread, circumglobal in the Northern hemisphere. There have been documented localized declines in parts of the range, but not sufficient to warrant placement in a threatened category. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
Coastal regions of Europe, N. Africa (Morocco, Algeria), W. Asia, Russian Far East, N. America (Alaska to Mexico, Newfoundland to N. Carolina)
Fine gravel, sand or mud in the sea from low water spring tides to depths of 4 metres in the Atlantic Ocean, rarely in estuaries[
]. In the Black Sea, it is found in pure and mixed stands from 0.5 - 15 metres depth on silty-sandy substrates[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
|Other Uses Rating||
A plant of shallow sea water, it is not really suitable for normal cultivation. It has a wide salinity tolerance of 5-35 ppt[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
]. The leaf bases are crisp and sweet, they were often used as a feast food by the native North American Indians[
]. Roasted and ground as a porridge[
The root of the plant is chewed for its saccharine juice[
]. The root is crisp and sweet, it was used as a flavouring by the native North American Indians and was also dried for winter food[
]. The raw rhizomes were often used as a feast food[
The leaves are used in the treatment of dropsy, goitre and women's illnesses[
Eelgrass is desirable for nearshore restoration, due to its ability to stabilize sediments and reduce erosion. Seagrass
restoration is also a tool for improving water quality and providing habitat for various aquatic and coastal species[
The dried leaves and stems are used as a packing material[
Eelgrass was once harvested for use as stuffing in mattress manufacture prior to industrial production of synthetic fibers[
]. Due to its low flammability, dried eelgrass shoots were also used as housing insulation[
The plant is frequently used as a manure[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe.