Split Kelp

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Split Kelp, Vancouver Island, BC
Split Kelp, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

Split kelp is medium to dark brown and has a thallus that is up to one meter tall and has a branched anchor that becomes a single stalk. The stalk flattens at its top to become a large flat blade that is divided into several ribbons, it is round shaped and rubbery to touch. The blade can be up to 95 cm long and up to 30 cm wide. The stalk can be up to 100 cm long, and up to 2 cm in diameter. If you cut the stalk, you can count growth rings just like you can on trees.

This Kelp can live as long as 20 or more years. This perennial is found in patches, attached to rocks in the extreme low tidal areas and upper sub-tidal in exposed habitats where it grows profusely. Look right at the edge of the sea at the lowest tides to see it. In giant kelp forests that are exposed to wave action, you will find it growing as an under story plant.

It can be found on most shores of the  Aleutian Islands in Alaska to Baja California. It grows on all the coast of BC.

Split kelp is sold as an similar alternative to the more widely known Japanese kombu kelp. Split kelp is commercially harvested in BC, you harvest split kelp by hand at low tide, but please leave at least 10 cm of plant base to facilitate regrowth, cut it above the stalk leaving a fairly good chunk of leaf.

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