Palmaria palmata or Rhodymenia palmata

Phylum: Rhodophyta
Family: Rhodymeniaceaedulse

Dulse is a reddish-purple colored seaweed that is commonly dried and available for retail sale (in baggies) at general stores throughout Nova Scotia.  This “sea vegetable” is also a free bar snack at the best watering hole in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea (New Brunswick), the Lobster Bay Restaurant.  This “delicacy” taste like a mouthful of seawater (as described by several first-timers), but becomes an acquired taste.  Dulse can also be described as a fisherman’s chewing tobacco; perhaps the saltiness keeps you alert.

Dulse typically inhabits the intertidal zone, but is often found in deeper water.  It has a disc-like holdfast connected to a short stipe that fans-out to broad, flat blades with no midrib.  When pressed flat, the blades resemble fingers extending from a palm; hence, the latin name Palmaria palmata.   Dulse is fairly opaque in its natural environment, but when removed from the ocean it becomes less opaque as it dries (photo below).  Dulse cells  are relatively large, and can easily be seen with a hand lens.  dusle2

Size: 30-50 cm (12-20 in)1,2,3
Range: Arctic to Long Island Sound2

Substrate: rocks, shells


1. Watling, L., Fegley, J., Moring, J., White, S., Sulzer, A. (2003) Life Between the Tides. Tilbury House Pub

2. Gosner, Keneth L. (1978), Peterson Field Guides: Atlantic Seashore – A field guide to sponges, jellyfish, sea urchins, and more

3. Alden, P., Cassie, B. (1998). National Audubon Society Field Guide to New England. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, inc..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Biodiversity Exposed