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The Difference Between Jamaican Sea Moss and Irish Moss

sea moss
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Even though people are flocking to Jamaican sea moss, there’s also confusion about exactly what it is and much of that puzzlement stems from the many terms used to describe it. Names have been used interchangeably, leading to misconceptions. First and foremost, sea moss is seaweed and seaweed is a type of algae.

There are multiple types of sea moss and it naturally comes in an array of colors. When it washes on shore, it covers the area with a carpet of seaweed that resembles moss, hence the misnomer of “moss.” Irish moss and Jamaican sea moss are not related to moss, nor is it kelp.

Irish Moss

Irish moss is the species known as Chondrus Crispus. It’s a multibranched algae with flat leaves that look similar to a fan. It grows in cooler waters. It was used in various ways throughout Europe to address multiple conditions and illnesses.

Irish sea moss came to the attention of the world when the Irish began harvesting it as a food source during the Irish Potato Famine in the 1800s. With little to eat, the Irish turned to the sea for nourishment. It washed up on the rocky shoreline where it was harvested. The sea weed came to be known as Irish sea moss as a result.

Jamaican Sea Moss

Jamaican sea moss is the species known as Genus Gracilaria. It prefers warmer waters in which to grow. When viewed in its natural state, Jamaican sea moss has a frond that’s flat, along with longer, slender branches. Jamaican sea moss has been known in the Caribbean for centuries and utilized in a wide array of home remedies.

The types of sea moss in Jamaica washes up on the shores where it’s harvested. It’s not commercially farmed or grown in ponds. When Irish immigrants came to Jamaica, they brought with them the memory and name of Irish moss and adapted it to describe the sea moss in their new home.

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