Caulerpa lentillifera

Caulerpa lentillifera is a species of ulvophyte green algae from coastal regions in the Asia-Pacific. This seaweed is one of the favored species of edible Caulerpa due to its soft and succulent texture. It is traditionally eaten in the cuisines of Southeast Asia, Oceania, and East Asia. It was first commercially cultivated in the Philippines in the 1950s, followed by Japan in 1968. Both countries remain the top consumers of C. lentillifera. Its cultivation has since spread to other countries, including Vietnam, Taiwan, and China. C. lentillifera, along with C. racemosa, are also known as sea grapes or green caviar in English.[2]

Caulerpa lentillifera
Scientific classification
(unranked): Viridiplantae
Division: Chlorophyta
Class: Ulvophyceae
Order: Bryopsidales
Family: Caulerpaceae
Genus: Caulerpa
C. lentillifera
Binomial name
Caulerpa lentillifera

It is a siphonous macroalgae, meaning it is a giant single cell with multiple nuclei, and can grow to 30 cm in length. Instead of leaves, the algae has bubbles that burst in the mouth, releasing an umami taste.[3]

Commercial cultivation

Traditionally, C. lentillifera were harvested directly from the wild. The first commercial cultivation of C. lentillifera was in the 1950s in Cebu, Philippines, after accidental introduction of C. lentillifera to fish ponds.[4] Currently, there are around 400 hectares of ponds in the Cebu, producing around 12 to 15 tons of fresh C. lentillifera per year. They are usually harvested after two months from first planting, and every two weeks afterwards depending on growth rates.[5]

Commercial cultivation was followed by Japan in 1968, where it was cultivated in tanks in the warmer waters of Okinawa.[6] Commercial cultivation has since spread to other countries, including Vietnam, Taiwan, and China (in Fujian and Hainan). Most are for domestic consumption, but they are also exported to Japan.[7]

Culinary uses

Caulerpa lentillifera, along with C. racemosa, have been traditionally eaten in the cuisines of Southeast Asia, Oceania, and East Asia. They are almost always eaten raw on their own or in salads.[8] They have been described as tasting "like the ocean." It is known to be rich in iodine.[9]

In the Philippines, C. lentillifera is usually known as latô or arosep. After being washed in clean water, it is usually eaten raw as a salad (ensaladang lato), mixed with chopped raw shallots and fresh tomatoes, and dressed with a blend of fish sauce or bagoong (fish paste) and vinegar. Its popularity has also spread to the Malaysian state of Sabah (where it is spelled latok) due to the migrations of the Bajau peoples.[10][5] They are also coveted by coastal Malay communities (as latoh) in the Riau Archipelago and Singapore, the latter until they were displaced inland late 19th century.[11]

In Okinawa, Japan, it is known as umi-budō (海ぶどう), meaning "sea grapes", or kubiretsuta.[12] It is served dipped in ponzu, made into sushi, added into salads, or eaten as is.[13][14]

C. lentillifera is also eaten in Vietnam, where it is known as rong nho or rong nho biển, meaning "grape algae";[15] in Korea, where it is known as bada podo (바다포도), also meaning "sea grapes"; and in Indonesia (particularly Bali), where it is known as bulung.

Health benefits

Several health benefits have been reported for Caulerpa lentillifera including diabetes and lipid lowering properties.[16][17]

See also


  1. Agardh, Jacob Georg (1837). "Novae species algarum, quas in itinere ad oras maris rubri collegit Eduardus Rüppell; cum observationibus nonnullis in species rariores antea cognitas". Museum Senckenbergianum. Abhandlungen aus dem Gebiete der beschreibenden Naturgeschichte. 2: 169–174. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  2. "Sea grapes - green caviar". Authentic World Food. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  3. Revealing Tasty Genetic Secrets of “Sea Grapes”
  4. Trono, Gavino C. Jr. (December 1988). Manual on Seaweed Culture. ASEAN/UNDP/FAO Regional Small-Scale Coastal Fisheries Development Project.
  5. Dela Cruz, Rita T. "Lato: Nutritious Grapes from the Sea". BAR Digest. Bureau of Agricultural Research, Republic of the Philippines. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  6. Trono, G.C. Jr. "Caulerpa lentillifera (PROSEA)". Pl@ntUse. PROSEA (Plant Resources of South East Asia). Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  7. Chen, Xiaolin; Sun, Yuhao; Liu, Hong; Liu, Song; Qin, Yukun; Li, Pengcheng (2019). "Advances in cultivation, wastewater treatment application, bioactive components of Caulerpa lentillifera and their biotechnological applications". PeerJ. 7: e6118. doi:10.7717/peerj.6118. PMC 6329336. PMID 30643691.
  8. Paul, Nicholas A.; Neveux, Nicolas; Magnusson, Marie; de Nys, Rocky (21 December 2013). "Comparative production and nutritional value of "sea grapes" — the tropical green seaweeds Caulerpa lentillifera and C. racemosa". Journal of Applied Phycology. doi:10.1007/s10811-013-0227-9. S2CID 15745994.
  9. Ratana-arporn, Pattama; Chirapar, Anong (2006). "Nutritional Evaluation of Tropical Green Seaweeds Caulerpa lentillifera and Ulva reticulata". Kasetsart Journal - Natural Science. 40: 75–83.
  10. Wagey, Billy T; Bucol, Abner A (25 February 2014). "A Brief Note of Lato (Caulerpa racemosa) Harvest at Solong-on, Siquijor, Philippines". e-Journal BUDIDAYA PERAIRAN. 2 (1). doi:10.35800/bdp.2.1.2014.3793.
  11. Khir Johari (Oct–Dec 2021). "The Role of Foraging in Malay Cuisine". BiblioAsia. Vol. 17, no. 3. National Library Board, Singapore. pp. 20–23.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: date format (link)
  12. Dawes, Clinton J. (1998). Marine botany. New York: John Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-19208-4.
  13. "Umibudo Sea Grapes". Japan Visitor. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  14. "All About Umibudo (Sea Grapes) - Where to Buy, Recipe, and More!". tsunagu Japan. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  15. Jacobs, Ananda (April 22, 2014). "In search of the fruits of Okinawa's oceans". The Japan Times Online. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  16. Sharma, Bhesh Raj; Kim, Hyun Jung; Rhyu, Dong Young (2015-02-15). "Caulerpa lentillifera extract ameliorates insulin resistance and regulates glucose metabolism in C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice via PI3K/AKT signaling pathway in myocytes". Journal of Translational Medicine. 13: 62. doi:10.1186/s12967-015-0412-5. ISSN 1479-5876. PMC 4350654. PMID 25889508.
  17. Sharma, Bhesh Raj; Rhyu, Dong Young (July 2014). "Anti-diabetic effects of Caulerpa lentillifera: stimulation of insulin secretion in pancreatic β-cells and enhancement of glucose uptake in adipocytes". Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. 4 (7): 575–580. doi:10.12980/APJTB.4.2014APJTB-2014-0091. ISSN 2221-1691. PMC 4032834. PMID 25183280.
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