Other Common Names:
The other common names for the herb Irish moss are Carrageen. Chondrus. Carrahan, Carrageenan and pearl moss.
Irish moss is the dried leaf-like structure of northern seaweed, Chondrus crispus and is also known as Carrageen and Pearl Moss. This grows among submerged rocks off the coast of France and, naturally, Ireland.
Consuming the seaweed as food has been a historical fact for the natives of lands along the north Atlantic coastline, whenever hard times of food scarcity have come upon the land. The plant consists of a greenish frond that turns purple when dried. Irish Moss was consumed by the Irish during the famine of the 19th century.
rish moss is a small red alga about 20 cm long growing from a discoid holdfast and branching in a dichotomous, fan-like manner four or five times. The morphology is very variable, especially the broadness of the thalli. The branches are 2 - 15 mm broad, firm in texture and dark reddish brown in colour bleaching to yellowish in sunlight. The gametophytes often show a blue iridescence and fertile sporophytes show a spotty pattern.
This her covers a wide range of habitat where it is mostly found in the Atlantic coast of Europe and North America especially in the shorelines of Ireland,Canada,British Isles,Portuguese,Faroe Islands and Baltic sea.
Irish moss is found growing on rock from the middle intertidal zone downwards. It is seaweed that grows among submerged rocks off the coast of France and, naturally, Ireland. This moss always prefers shoreline thus found clinging to submerged rocks.
The harvest of Irish moss is carried out in North America in the summer months, while it is harvested in Ireland during the fall. Harvesting involves pulling up of the Irish moss by hand or using a rake during the low tide, gathered plants are then dried in the sun and stored for later use. Before the usage of this moss as a jelly it undergoes a series of steps of processing. After the Irish moss is gathered it is dried in the sun and then soaked in cold water for the plants to swell and regain their size. This is followed by boiling the plant in water till it gets dissolved and then on cooling it gets settled to a jelly.
Pests and Diseases
Irish moss is a hardy plant which has very few issues with pest, disease and insects.
The dried plant
called the thallus
is generally used both for
its medicinal and commercial use.
• A popular remedy made into a jelly for pulmonary complaints and kidney and bladder affections.
• The berries are good for coughs, shortness of breath, consumption, and pains in the belly, rupture, cramps, convulsions and speedy delivery to pregnant women.
• It is used in treating irritating coughs, bronchitis and many other lung problems like tuberculosis and pneumonia thus acting as an expectorant, demulcent and anti-inflammatory agent.
• It has been used as a food for the diabetic patients.
• Recent animal research has shown an anti-viral property against the influenza B and the mumps viruses.
• It is used in treating ulcers and act as an anti coagualant.
• The raw Irish moss is used as a laxative which soothes the entire gastrointestinal tract.
• The Irish moss helps in the treatment of all kinds of urinary infections including cystitis.
• It purifies and strengthens the cellular structure and vital fluids of the system. The iodine contained in its small and usable quantities contributes to the glandular system.
• It is used as a mattress stuffing, as cattle feed, and as a thickener for colored inks used in printing.
• Irish moss is available in tea and capsule forms.
• Irish moss is used as a stabilizer in such dairy products as ice creams, sherbets, chocolate milk, yogurt and whipped cream.
• Topical applications of Irish moss include its use in lotions to soften the skin & prevent premature wrinkling, and as a compress or poultice for inflamed tissues.
• It is used as a thickening agent in cosmetics and as a binding agent, like in toothpaste.
• The jelly of Irish moss is used as a commercial product in the preparation of culinary and medicinal items.
• The jelly is also consumed as such; it is also employed as a thickening agent in soups and stews of all kinds.
• It may also be used as a thickener in calico-printing and for fining beer or wine.
• Irish moss is also used to make a beverage popular in the Caribbea.