Green Rope

Acrosiphonia mertensii

Green Rope on RockPatch of Green Rope in Tide Pool

Color: Green
Shape: Rope-like
Texture: Furry
Size: Up to 10”+
Zone: Intertidal
Range: Alaska to California

Description: This seaweed grows attached to rocks or other seaweed and drapes down like ropes. The ropes are made up of tangled filaments and look like dread-locks.

Edibility:

Distinctive characteristics:

Collection notes:

Phylum: Chlorophyta (Green Algae)
Previous names: Conferva coalita, Spongomorpha coalita, Codiolum petrocelidis
Similar species: There are many similar species that are only distinguishable with a microscope, including Acrosiphonia coalita and Acrosiphonia spinescens.

Turkish Towel

Chondracanthus exasperatus

Color: Red (Dark red to purple when young, red to yellow when older, can be iridescent when wet.)
Shape: Irregular Blade
Texture: Bumpy
Size: 12–32”
Zone: Low intertidal and subtidal
Range: Alaska to Mexico

Description: Broad blade, irregular edges. Small discoid holdfast, one or more blades per hold fast. Covered with small bumps (papillae).

Edibility: Used to make carrageenan

Distinctive characteristics:

Collection notes: Can be used like a loofah

Phylum: Rhodophyta (Red Algae)
Previous names: Gigartina exasperata, Gigartina californica, Gigartina radula
Similar species: Mastocarpus papillatus

Sugar Kelp, Kombu, Sugar Wrack

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

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

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

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.

Sea Lettuce, Aosa, Green Laver

Ulva fenestrata, Ulva lactuca

Tufts of Nori at the Top of a Rock Covered with Sea LettuceSea Lettuce HolesSea Lettuce

Color: Green (Bright)
Shape: Sheet
Texture: Smooth, often with holes like Swiss-cheese
Size: 4–12”+
Zone: Intertidal
Range: Alaska to California (Ulva fenestrata), World-wide (Ulva lactuca and other species)

Description: Bright green thin, lettuce-like “leaves” attached in tufts to a small holdfast. May be white at the edges. Several similar species. Some have holes like Swiss-cheese. Can be long or round. Prefers calm areas.

Edibility: Makes a tasty fresh salad.

Distinctive characteristics:

Collection notes: If sea lettuce populations are particularly profuse or dominant, check to be sure the area is free of sewage drainage or other pollution before collecting as sea lettuce grows particularly well in these conditions. Rinse with water to remove small sea creatures such as snails hiding in the blades.

Phylum: Chlorophyta (Green Algae)
Previous names:
Similar species: Easy to confused with Monostroma. Monostroma is only one cell layer thick while Sea Lettuce is two cell layers thick. Monostroma grows in a circle around a disc-shaped holdfast; Sea Lettuce has a short stipe growing up out of the holdfast. Also similar to other Ulva species. All are edible.

Sargassum, Wireweed

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.

Dulse, Red Ribbon, Red Kale

Palmaria mollis

Color: Red
Shape: Irregular Blades
Texture: Smooth
Size: 8–10”
Zone: Intertidal to Subtidal
Range: Alaska to Mexico

Description: The name “palmaria” comes from the hand-shaped arrangement of the blades. Irregular blades are attached to a small disc-shaped holdfast.

Edibility: Versatile. Leathery when dried. High in iron and other vitamins and minerals. Eaten in Scandinavia and the British Isles by people and sheep.

Distinctive characteristics:

Collection notes:

Phylum: Rhodophyta (Red Algae)
Previous names: Palmaria palmata forma Mollis, Rhodymenia palmata
Similar species: Palmaria pinannatifida, Rhodymenia pertusa, Palmaria callophylloides, Palmeria hecatensis

Nori, Laver, Black Seaweed

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

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

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.

Rainbow-leaf, Splendid Iridescent Seaweed

Mazzaella splendens

Rainbow-LeafRainbow-Leaf in Flowing WaterPhoto Showing Iridescence of Rainbow-LeafExtreme Close Up of Rainbow-Leaf's Smooth SurfaceRainbow-Leaf's Rubbery Texture

Color: Red (Purpleish, Iridescent)
Shape: Sheet
Texture: Smooth
Size: Up to 3’+
Zone: Intertidal to Subtidal
Range: Alaska to Mexico

Description: This seaweed appears sheet-like but is an irregular blade attached to a very short, small stipe and holdfast. It is distinguished by its iridescent sheen when wet.

Edibility: Edible

Distinctive characteristics: Used to make carrageen

Collection notes:

Phylum: Rhodophyta (Red Algae)
Previous names: Iridaea cordata, Iridae splendens, Gigartina cordata, Iridophhycus splendens, Iridophycus cordatum, Iridophycus fulgens
Similar species: Several similar species including Mazzaella linearis and Mazzaella cornucopiae

Green Tuft, Green Ball

Cladophora columbiana

Green TuftGreen Tuft Clumping Under a Large Rock

Color: Green (Bright)
Shape: Carpet-like
Texture: Furry
Size: 2”
Zone: Upper Intertidal
Range: Alaska to Mexico

Description: This short furry-looking seaweed grows in clumps on rocks in the upper intertidal zone and looks similar to moss.

Edibility:

Distinctive characteristics:

Collection notes:

Phylum: Chlorophyta (Green Algae)
Previous names:
Cladophora trichotoma, Cladophora hemisphaerica
Similar species:

Red Spaghetti

Gracilariopsis sjoestedtii

Red Spaghetti in the WaterRed Spaghetti Close UpRed Spaghetti with Green String Lettuce

Color: Red
Shape: Branching, Tube-like
Texture: Smooth
Size: Up to 3’
Zone: Intertidal
Range: British Columbia to Mexico

Description: Small, disc-shaped holdfast with round, noodle-like branches. Grows attached to small rocks or buried in the sand.

Edibility: Edible

Distinctive characteristics: Used to make agar agar.

Collection notes:

Phylum: Rhodophyta (Red Algae)
Previous names: Gracilaria sjoestedtii
Similar species: Gracilariopsis lemaneiformis Gracilaria verrucosa, Gracilaria pacifica, Neoagardhiella baileyi

Turkish Washcloth

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

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)

Green String Lettuce

Enteromorpha linza

A Cluster of Green String Lettuce Surrounding a RockHolding Up Green String Lettuce and HoldfastGreen String Lettuce

Color: Green (Bright)
Shape: Irregular Blade
Texture: Smooth
Size: Up to 20”
Zone: Intertidal
Range: Alaska to Mexico

Description: This bright green seaweed is thin, long and narrow, and ruffly at the edges. The blades are around an inch wide and are attached at the base to a small holdfast. Prefers sheltered areas.

Edibility: Edible

Distinctive characteristics: Technically, this seaweed is a tube that has been flattened. You may be able to detect the tube at the base before it becomes a flat blade.

Collection notes: Be sure the area is free of pollutants.

Phylum: Chlorophyta (Green Algae)
Previous names: Ulva linza
Similar species: Enteromorpha intestinalis, Ulva (Sea Lettuce) species

Feather Boa

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:

Dead Man’s Fingers, Sea Sac

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:

Sarcodiotheca gaudichaudii

Sarcodiotheca gaudichaudii

Sarcodiotheca gaudichaudii at low tideSarcodiotheca gaudichaudiiSarcodiotheca gaudichaudii

Color: Red
Shape: Branched
Texture: Bumpy, Bushy
Size: Up to 1’+
Zone: Intertidal to Subtidal
Range: Alaska to Mexico

Description: This bright red seaweed can look tree-shaped, with longer branches at the bottom tapering to shorter branches at the top, around a central axis. It has a disc-shaped holdfast and a warty texture.

Edibility:

Distinctive characteristics:

Collection notes:

Phylum: Rhodophyta (Red Algae)
Previous names: Neoagardhiella baileyi, Agardhiella tenera
Similar species: Gracilariopsis sjoestedtii (Red Spaghetti)

Red Cellophane

Porphyra cuneiformis

Red Cellophane and Holdfast at Low TideTransparent Red CellophaneRed Cellophane

Color: Red
Shape: Sheet
Texture: Smooth (Silky)
Size: Up to 6”+
Zone: Intertidal to Subtidal
Range: Alaska to California

Description: Similar to Nori, this seaweed is sheet-like with a tiny holdfast. It may appear ruffly and grow in clusters. It is very thin and the texture is smooth and silky.

Edibility: Edible

Distinctive characteristics:

Collection notes:

Phylum: Rhodophyta (Red Algae)
Previous names: Porphyra miniata forma cuneiformis, Porphyra miniata var. cuneiformis

Similar species: Porphyra abyssicola, Porphyra amplissima, Porphyra miniata, Porphyra tenuissima, Porphyra perforata, Porphyra abbottae

Bull Kelp, Bullwhip Kelp

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

Bleach Weed

Prionitis lanceolata

Color: Red (Purple)
Shape: Branching
Texture: Smooth
Size: 10–15”
Zone: Intertidal
Range: Alaska to Mexico

Description: Bleach weed is narrow at the base, then branches into flat blades, fringed irregularly with small blade-lets that seem to be attached at an angle with the main blade rather than flush. The holdfast is disc-shaped.

Edibility:

Distinctive characteristics: Smells like bromine.

Collection notes:

Phylum: Rhodophyta (Red Algae)
Previous names: Gelidium lanceolatum, Zanardinula lanceolata
Similar species: