E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Palmaria mollis (Setchell et Gardner) Van Der Meer et Bird 198
red ribbon

Introduction to the Algae

© Michael Hawkes  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #14803)

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Distribution of Palmaria mollis
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Ocean Biogeography Information System (global distribution)

Species Information

Family Description:
Members of this family are simple, bifurcate, dichotomously branched, or proliferous blades or sacs. The medulla is composed of large, globose cells (no filaments). Reproduction is as described for the order.
Species description:
Red Ribbon is clumped and can be abundant on rocks in the spring, but by mid June it is hard to find. Individual blades are hand-shaped (hence the name Palmaria) and mostly up to about 20 cm (8 in) inches high and perhaps half that in width. They are light to medium red and have rather a matte finish (i.e., they are not shiny). Individual blades can be unbranched, but more typically they are sparsely lobed with pointed tips. The blades feel significantly thinner than those of the closely related Stiff Red Ribbon. The blades have no veins or midribs, which can be verified by holding them up against the light. Basally, each blade tapers rapidly to a small discoidal holdfast. This is a perennial alga; it can grow proliferous new blades the following year from the stub of last year's base, with an individual living 2 or 3 years.

Where Red Ribbon grows together with Stiff Red Ribbon, the former species usually occurs somewhat lower in the intertidal zone.

Red Ribbon is another good edible. It is usually harvested in April or May, dried, and ground to a powder which can be added to breads and soups to give them texture and to increase their nutritional value. It can also be chopped when fresh and added to salads or oriental dishes. Red Ribbon is rich in vitamins A and C, protein, iodine and phosphorus.

Formerly, Red Ribbon was called Palmaria palmata forma mollis because biologists thought that it was the same species as one occurring in the North Atlantic. However, when it was discovered that west coast specimens could not hybridize North Atlantic ones, it was apparent that the west coast specimens represented a distinct species. Studies of their DNA have confirmed the species to be distinct.

Source: North Pacific Seaweeds

Habitat / Range

Bathymetry: low intertidal to subtidal
World Distribution: Alaska to San Luis Obispo County, California

Source: North Pacific Seaweeds

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Palmaria palmata
Rhodymenia palmata var. mollis

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Range and Status Information Links

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General References