Sunday, 8 September 2019

What does azolla taste like

Azolla is a free floating fern that has a symbiotic relationship with a filamentous cyanobacteria called Anabaena.  This symbiotic relationship allows azolla to sequester atmospheric nitrogen and makes azolla a valuable little plant.

Azolla doesn't look much like a fern, but it is a fern.  I can't think of many free floating ferns, there are a few species of Azolla, and a few species of Salvinia.  Salvinia also doesn't look much like a fern.

Azolla is useful for many different things.  It is excellent high protein animal feed, it can be used to clean water, it has been proven to reduce mosquito survival, it is high in nitrogen and great in composts.  I keep some containers with azolla so my bees can collect water without drowning.  Azolla is even edible by people.  I have eaten azolla.
A bee collecting water from azolla

How do you describe the taste of fresh Azolla?  I read on the internet that azolla “has a crisp texture, smells a bit like moss and has a slightly tart taste, that is somehow earthy and reminiscent of forest”.  Yep, that just about sums it up.  I am not sure I agree with the 'tart taste' part, but the rest is spot on.

Azolla isn't the most amazing thing you will eat, but it isn't too bad.  The taste is underwhelming but I don't particularly like the texture.  When I eat azolla it breaks into tiny pieces that feel bad in my mouth.  I guess you could mix in in with a salad and it would be pretty good.

If you eat anything that grows in water you must take care that it was grown in water that was not polluted, and that it is free from snails.  Water snails carry a bunch of parasites that are best not to eat raw.

Over summer bees collect water without drowning
Azolla is easy enough to grow and will double in size very quicky under ideal conditions.  I put water in a container, put in a piece of azolla, and it takes care of itself from there.  All I need to do is scoop it out to feed the poultry or to add to compost or whatever. 

As azolla sequesters nitrogen from the atmosphere I grow it with Chinese water chestnuts, duck potatoes, and other water vegetables where it reduces issues with mosquitoes and fertilises these plants. 

I have heard that overseas Azolla is often grown among rice paddies to fertilise the crops and feed fish.  Interestingly enough azolla is only grown on a large scale in Communist countries.  I am not sure what to think about that?

I sell azolla through my for sale page along with various perennial vegetables, heirloom vegetable seeds, edible herb plants etc.


  1. When I point out Azolla on botanical tours, I will now be able to tell people that Azolla is edible, and I think they will enjoy your description of the taste as " earthy and reminiscent of forest!" Thank you for this very interesting post.

    1. Hi Katherine,

      I have only eaten azolla raw. It isn't bad, but I don't like the feel it leaves in my mouth.

      Be sure when you tell people azolla is edible to warn about water snails. They can carry parasites that are really bad for you. If there are no snails then it is fine to eat.

      I am told that azolla can be dried and ground into something similar to flour. I am also told it can be cooked but I don't know how. If cooked then the snail parasites would not be an issue.