Sugar Kelp, Kombu, Sugar Wrack

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Laminaria saccharina

Sugar Kelp Showing Holdfast and PuckersSugar Kelp on a Rock at Low TideSugar Kelp on the Beach with Sea LettuceSugar Kelp Close UpSugar Kelp

Color: Brown
Shape: Blade
Texture: Smooth with Puckers
Size: Up to 6′
Zone: Lower intertidal to subtidal, semi-protected areas, rocky areas
Range: Alaska, British Columbia, Oregon, California

Description: Wide blade with a 5–20” round stipe connected to root-like, branching holdfast. Blade may be smooth in the center and on the edges. Indentations tend to look like two rows. Blade may be torn or studded with blotchy coral encrustations.

Edibility: Delicious! Can be eaten many ways. Rich in iodine, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals.

Distinctive characteristics:

Collection notes: Use scissors to cut the upper blade and leave the rest to keep growing.

Phylum: Phaeophyta (Brown Algae)
Previous names: Fucus saccharinus
Similar species: Other Laminaria species

Wakame, Strap Kelp, Winged Kelp, Honey Ware

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Alaria marginata

Color: Brown (Carmel to Olive Green)
Shape: Blade
Texture: Smooth
Size: 2’–6’+
Zone: Low intertidal to subtidal
Range: Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California

Description: Large, thin blade with flat midrib, May be torn on edges or ends or appear ruffly. Stipe up to 24” long, often with groups of leaf-like sophorophls on each side (“wings”). Branched, root-like holdfast.

Edibility: Delicious! Great in miso and other soups. Use as a vegetable. High in calcium and other vitamins and minerals.

Distinctive characteristics: Center rib. “Wings” (groups of leaf-like sophorophls on each side of the stipe.) One of many Alaria species that look similar. All are edible.

Collection notes: Use scissors to cut off upper part of blade. Leave the leafy “wings” as these are the reproductive parts of the seaweed that will produce next years’ seaweed.

Phylum: Phaeophyta (Brown Algae)
Previous names:
Similar species: Other Alaria species, Laminaria species

Studded Sea Balloons

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Soranthera ulvoidea

Soranthera Ulvoidea (Studded Sea Balloons)Studded Sea Balloons

Color: Brown
Shape: Pod-like, hollow or filled with liquid
Texture: Bumpy
Size: 2–6”
Zone: Intertidal
Range: Alaska to California

Description: Branching stipe connected to a small holdfast. Bushy or shaggy-looking branches alternating with bumpy brown to olive balloon-like sacs of 1–2”.

Edibility:

Distinctive characteristics: An epiphyte — grows on species of red algae.

Collection notes:

Phylum: Phaeophta (Brown Algae)
Previous names:
Similar species: Can be confused with Sea Cauliflower, Leathesia difformis, when young

Soda Straws, Whip Tube

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Scytosiphon simplicissimus

Soda StrawsSmall Grouping of Soda Straws Growing on Large RockSoda Straws Close Up Showing SegmentingClump of Soda Straws

Color: Brown
Shape: Tube-like
Texture: Segmented
Size: Up to 2’
Zone: Intertidal
Range: Alaska to South America

Description: Long narrow tubes, less than .5” in diameter, in clusters but not branched. Small disc-like holdfast. Simplicissimus is segmented, reminiscent of sausage links; other species of Scytosiphon are not.

Edibility: Edible

Distinctive characteristics:

Collection notes:

Phylum: Phaeophyta (Brown Algae)
Previous names: Chorda lomentaria, Scytosiphon lomentaria
Similar species: Melanosiphon intestinalis and other Melanosiphon (Twisted Soda Straws). Can also be confused with Ralfsia in its crustose phase, when it looks like a brown coating on rocks.

Sargassum, Wireweed

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Sargassum muticum

Large Mass of Sargassum in Tide PoolSargassum During Receding TideSargassum Covering the Beach

Color: Brown (Golden)
Shape: Branched (Profusely)
Texture: Bushy
Size: Up to 6’+
Zone: Intertidal to Subtidal
Range: Alaska to Mexico

Description: A cascade of tiny blades with on a long, thin stipe with many branches, dotted with small, round, bead-like vesicles. The stipe is attached to a small disc-like holdfast. The blades are less that 1 inch with toothed edges. Sargassum sometimes forms floating masses and prefers wave-sheltered areas.

Edibility: Edible

Distinctive characteristics: Aggressive invasive species.

Collection notes:

Phylum: Phaeophyta (Brown Algae)
Previous names: Sargassum kjellmaniaum f. muticum
Similar species: Sargassum natans (of the Sargasso Sea), Cystoseira geminata, which has pointy floats, in addition to round ones.

Nori, Laver, Black Seaweed

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Porphyra abbottae, Porphyra perforata and other similar species

Tufts of Nori at the Top of a Rock Covered with Sea LettuceNori and Other Seaweeds on a Rock in a Tide PoolDrying Nori on a Clothes LineNori

Color: Brown (Greenish, Purpleish or Nearly Black)
Shape: Sheet
Texture: Smooth
Size: Up to 1’
Zone: Intertidal
Range: Alaska to Mexico

Description: Thin, nearly transparent sheets grow clinging on rock. Tiny holdfast. Can appear ruffly. Porphyra abbottae is slightly longer and narrower; Porphyra perforata may have small holes.

Edibility: Delicious! This is the seaweed used to make sushi and is eaten widely in Japan and throughout the world. Porphyra abbottae is considered the tastier species in our area.

Distinctive characteristics:

Collection notes: Be sure to rise off critters living in this seaweed.

Phylum: Rhodophyta (Red Algae)
Previous names:
Similar species: Porphyra abbottae, Porphyra torta, Porphyra nereocystis, Porphyra perforata, Porphyra laciniata, Porphyra pseudolinearis, Porphyra kurogii, Porphyra fuciola, Porphyra cuneiformis. Several similar species. Some of the blades are round, others are long and narrow. All are edible. It is also similar to the edible Smithora naiadum that grows on eel grass.

Sea Cauliflower

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Lethesia difformis

Sea CauliflowerLeathesia Difformis

Color: Brown (Golden)
Shape: Pod-like
Texture: Bumpy
Size: Up to 6”
Zone: Intertidal
Range: Alaska to Mexico

Description: This seaweed looks like small yellow-brown brains growing on the rocks or on other seaweeds. The interior is hollow. Sea Cauliflower tends to grow in clusters.

Edibility:

Distinctive characteristics: Disentegrates into filaments when squeezed.

Collection notes:

Phylum: Phaeophyta (Brown Algae)
Previous names: Tremella difformis
Similar species: Soranthera ulvoidea and Colpomenia bullosus when young.

Split Kelp

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Laminaria bongardiana

Split Kelp With Tattered EndsSplit Kelp Close UpSplit Kelp Detail

Color: Brown (Dark)
Shape: Blade
Texture: Smooth
Size: Up to 6’
Zone: Intertidal to Subtidal
Range: Alaska to California

Description: Branched holdfast, long stipe of up to 2’. The broad, smooth blade is split into several sections.

Edibility: Edible

Distinctive characteristics:

Collection notes: Cut above the holdfast to encourage regrowth.

Phylum: Phaeophyta (Brown Algae)
Previous names: Laminaria groenlandica
Similar species: Can be hard to tell apart from Laminaria saccharina.

Turkish Washcloth

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Mastocarpus papillatus

Turkish Washcloth on Rocky BeachTurkish WashclothTurkish Washcloth Close Up

Color: Brown (Yellowish, Reddish, Black when Dry)
Shape: Irregular Blade
Texture: Bumpy
Size: Up to 6”
Zone: Intertidal
Range: Alaska to Mexico

Description: Short, upright irregular blades that are rubbery and covered with small bumps. The ruffly blades taper to a small stipe and holdfast.

Edibility: Used to make carrageenan. Can be boiled to make a gel-like thickener at home as well.

Distinctive characteristics: Forms a black tar-like “crust” on rocks during one phase of its lifecycle.

Collection notes:

Phylum: Rhodophyta (Red Algae)
Previous names: Gigartina papillata, Gigartina sitchensis, Petrocelis franciscana, Petrocelis middendorffii, Gigartina mamillosa, Gigartina dichomta, Gigartina cristata
Similar species: Chondracanthus exasperatus (Turkish Towel)

Rockweed, Bladderwrack, Popweed

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Fucus gardneri

Fucus Close UpFucus on RockStrip of Fucus Above a Strip of Sea LettuceMass of Fucus Covering a Large Area of RocksFucus

Color: Brown (Yellowish to Olive)
Shape: Branching, Pod-like
Texture: Bumpy
Size: Up to 2’
Zone: Intertidal
Range: Alaska to California

Description: This abundant seaweed is distinguished by the mitten-shaped hollow liquid or gas-filled pods at the ends of mature branches. The pods have a bumpy exterior. Rockweed has a disc shaped holdfast and half-inch blades with a midrib that branch off two by two. Young branches may appear flat and without the pods on the ends. Rockweed prefers rocky terrain.

Edibility: Young tips are tasty fresh or blanched. Can also be dried. Eat in moderation.

Distinctive characteristics: If you squeeze the mature pods, they will make a popping sound.

Collection notes:

Phylum: Phaeophyta (Brown Algae)
Previous names: Fucus distichus, Fucus evanescens
Similar species: Fucus spiralis, Pelvetiopsis limitata (Dwarf Rockweed)

Feather Boa

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Egregia menziesii

Color: Brown (Olive)
Shape: Branching, Bushy
Texture: Bumpy
Size: Up to 30’+
Zone: Low Intertidal to Subtidal
Range: British Columbia to Mexico

Description: This flamboyant seaweed consists of a thick midrib, fringed with small irregular blades on either side that are interspersed with round floats. Feather Boa has a large, branching holdfast and a stipe that is round at the holdfast, then branches and broadens to be an inch or two wide. Feather Boa can grow quite long.

Edibility:

Distinctive characteristics:

Collection notes:

Phylum: Phaeophyta (Brown Algae)
Previous names: Fucus menziesii
Similar species:

Witch’s Hair, Acid Kelp

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Desmarestia aculeata

Color: Brown
Shape: Branched, Bushy
Texture: Smooth
Size: Up to 3’+
Zone: Low Intertidal to Subtidal
Range: Alaska to Oregon

Description: This highly branching seaweed is connected to a small, disc-shaped holdfast. The many thin, round branches give it a busy appearance.

Edibility: Do not eat.

Distinctive characteristics: Releases sulfuric acid when damaged.

Collection notes: Best to avoid. The acid released by this seaweed will destroy other seaweeds collected if left in the same container.

Phylum: Phaeophyta (Brown Algae)
Previous names: Fucus aculeatus, Desmarestia intermedia
Similar species: Desmarestia viridis

Dead Man’s Fingers, Sea Sac

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Halosaccion glandiforme

Color: Red, Brown, Green (Dark Purple-Red to Golden Brown to Yellow-Green)
Shape: Pod-like
Texture: Smooth
Size: Up to 8”
Zone: Intertidal
Range: Alaska to California

Description: These elongated, pod-shaped sacs are filled with seawater with a bubble of gas trapped at the top. Clusters grow on rocks, secured by a small disc-shaped holdfasts.

Edibility: Edible

Distinctive characteristics: If you squeeze them, they will squirt water. However, the water is needed for the seaweed to survive when the tide is out.

Collection notes:

Phylum: Rhodophyta (Red Algae)
Previous names: Ulva glandiformis
Similar species:

Bull Kelp, Bullwhip Kelp

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Nereocyctis luetkeana

Color: Brown (Golden or Dark)
Shape: Branching, Tube-like
Texture: Smooth
Size: Up to 100’+
Zone: Subtidal
Range: Alaska to California

Description: This large seaweed begins with a large, branching holdfast supporting a long, hollow stipe that starts narrow and widens at the top, ending in a tennis-ball shaped float. Attached to the float are long, flat blades a few inches wide and up to 30 feet long. The blades are arranged in two groups like pig-tails and tend to trail on the surface of the water.

Edibility: Delicious! The stipe makes tasty pickles. Blades taste salty, but the flavor comes from the high potassium content. Blades are delicate when dried.

Distinctive characteristics: The floats are filled with gas, including the toxic carbon monoxide.

Collection notes: Boat required.

Phylum: Phaeophyta (Brown Algae)
Previous names: Fucus luetkeanus
Similar species: Durvillaea antartica