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.

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

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)

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:

Witch’s Hair, Acid Kelp

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

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)

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: