Furbellows Phaeophyta (kelp)
A monster of a seaweed, it’s our largest at up to four yards in length. Remarkably for something so large, it is an annual. Furbellows is more splendid than beautiful. Its fronds form massive fingers that are attached to a flat ‘palm’, that, in turn, is attached to an arm with frilled edges. Like most seaweeds, Furbellows has a holdfast to fix it to rocks. It’s a massive, warty, inverted cup, which can form a habitat for small marine creatures. Nearly all kelps are ecologically important for another reason—they form extensive kelp forests. An important ingredient in miso soup is something called kombu. Like a bayleaf, it’s removed after cooking, its flavourenhancing glutamates left behind. Kombu is another kelp species, but Furbellows is identical for culinary purposes. I hang it and other kelps on my washing line to dry, a habit that’s cemented my reputation for being a bit odd.