hairmoss or hairweed, also sometimes called ‘cowhair’, freshwater algae of NW China and Inner Mongolia, identified by Dr Yan-Kit So (1984) as Borgia fuscopurpurea. The product is sold in dried form, looking like a mass of fine tangled black hair. It has to be reconstituted by adding water, when it turns dark greenish-brown. It has no taste of its own, but is prized for the slippery and bouncy texture which it possesses. Chinese refer to it as the ‘treasure of the Gobi [desert]’.
© the Estate of Alan Davidson 1999, 2006, 2014 © in the Editor’s contribution to the second and third editions, Oxford University Press 2006, 2014.