Limu Wawae’iole

Seaweeds, called limu in Hawaiian, include a wide variety of marine algae. These marine plants are the basis of the food web on reefs and rocky shores. In Hawai’i, limu are found in many marine environments from tidepools to deep reef slopes. Most seaweeds also need a hard surface of rock or coral on which to grow, few are found in sandy environments. There are over 600 different species of seaweeds in Hawai’i.

There are three basic groups of seaweeds, based on the color of the pigments they have for use in photosynthesis. Green seaweeds have green pigments called chlorophylls, brown seaweeds are golden or brownish-green because they have brown and orange pigments in addition to the green ones. Red seaweeds are usually pinkish or purplish in color, reflecting their additional reddish and bluish pigments.

Codium edule, is a green seaweed known locally as limu wawae’iole, which translates as rat’s foot. This seaweed is often used in food with other seaweeds, but must be carefully cleaned. The branching structure of C. edule permits many other types of algae and animals suitable habitat within its branches.