Vibrant green balls of velvety, soft, bounce, what’s not to love?
Once you’ve seen them, pet them, watched as they delicately collect the teeny, tiniest air bubbles on their furry green surface, you have no choice but to be smitten. It’s not hard to imagine why they became a symbol of love.
The history of these sweet orbs trace back to Lake Akan, Japan where up to 6,000,000 marimo grow slowly in the cold freshwater bowl shaped lake, floating and sinking as their need for photosynthesis ebbs and flows. Many of you have probably heard of the folklore around marimo: two lovers, unable to be united, she the daughter of a chief and he a commoner, run away together but fall into Lake Akan and drown, their hearts becoming the first marimo. Sweet, tragic and definitely memorable! Today, in Japan and now all over the world, marimo are given as a token of love, and offered as a gift for your heart’s deepest desire.
Marimo ‘Moss’ Ball is a bit of a misnomer however as ‘mari’ in Japanese means ball and ‘mo’ means seaweed or algae. Apparently seaweed and algae aren’t as glamorous as moss (?) so they became known as Marimo Moss Balls, not Marimo Algae Balls or Marimo Seaweed Balls, which is a personal favorite.
Each ball is formed as long strings of algae filament roll along the bottom of sandy lakes and bind together along the shallows of these waters. Their average size is about that of a golf ball, some grow much larger as they age-up to 200 years old is estimated for the oldest marimo out there. They propagate by ‘budding’ or forming a new little version of themself that will eventually tear away and become its own marimo. Their unique round shape keep marimo photosynthesizing as they turn and roll which is vital to their overall well-being. Direct or strong sunlight can easily burn and kill the algae if exposed for too long, which is why I recommend keeping them in bright, but indirect light in your home and giving them a little swirl a few times a week to keep some movement happening. As with all my houseplant friends, I try my best to recreate their natural habitat making each feel at home as much as possible.
How do they work exactly? Why do some float and some sink you may wonder? In their natural habitat these macroalgae grow slowly (realllllly slowly, like 5 millimeters a year) in both freshwater and sometimes brackish (a little salty) water too. This is why adding a pinch of sea salt to their water helps prevent any grey or black spotting keeping them feeling right at home. When marimo photosynthesize, they produce oxygen making them buoyant & keeping them closer to the surface of the water. When the light fades, marimo no longer photosynthesize and descend once again to hang out at the bottom of the lake. Their unique round shape keep marimo photosynthesizing no matter how they roll which is vital. Yes, marimo need movement!
Sacred Elements has partnered with a wonderful grower of marimo and together, we’re excited and honored to share them once they’ve been grown and loved up specially to float in your home!