Purple laver

Purple laver ©Dorset Wildlife Trust

Purple laver

Scientific name: Porphyra umbilicalis
This purply-brown seaweed is a common feature on our rocky shores and on our dinner plates.

Species information

Statistics

Size: up to 20cm across

Conservation status

Common

When to see

January to December

About

Purple laver is a common seaweed found on rocky shores and can tolerate long periods of air exposure between tides. It attaches to the rock with a disc-like holdfast and occurs both singularly and in colonies. The purple fronds are tough but membraneous, being only a few cells thick.

How to identify

Purple laver is a purplish-brown seaweed with very thin, membrane-like fronds that vary in shape.

Distribution

Common on rocky shores all around our coasts.

Did you know?

Purple laver is a favourite food in parts of Wales, where it is used to make laver bread and jelly, or rolled in oatmeal and fried in bacon fat. It is often served cold in Cornwall, doused with vinegar.

How people can help

Purple Laver and other species of seaweed provide food and shelter for all kinds of shore creatures from grazing molluscs to tiny fish. When rockpooling, be careful to leave everything as you found it - replace any seaweed you move out of the way, put back any crabs or fish and ensure not to scrape anything off its rocky home. If you want to learn more about our rockpool life, Wildlife Trusts around the UK run rockpool safaris and offer Shoresearch training - teaching you to survey your local rocky shore. The data collected is then used to protect our coasts and seas through better management or through the designation of Marine Protected Areas. The Wildlife Trusts are working with sea users, scientists, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or checking out our Action Pages.