As the oceans equivalent of trees, a kelp plant shares many of their features. At the base is a large structure called a holdfast which form the roots. Then there is the stipes which make up its trunk and branches. Flat blade like structures then form the leaves.
Kelp forests have and continue to be the focus of much scientific research in California as they are a highly productive marine ecosystem which has been heavily impacted by pollution and over fishing.
Under ideal conditions Macrocystis can reach lengths of 100 feet or more within 1 to 2 years. A Kelp Forest supports an incredibly diverse community of marine life made up of nearly 800 known species.
Kelp is commercially harvested for Algin a compound used as a smoothing agent in hundreds of products. A few examples include cosmetics salad dressings canned foods and frozen foods such as ice cream. Only the upper canopy is cut away much like mowing a lawn. The Kelp Forest quickly re-grows and can be harvested multiple times per year.
The round bulbs at the base of each blade are called pneumatocysts. Each one is a gas filled bladder that provides buoyancy. Collectively they assist in keeping the kelp plant in an upright position.
Range: Alaska to Magdalena Bay Baja Mexico
Species: Macrocystis pyrifera
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