Himanthalia elongata, AKA Thongweed
Habitat: Lower rocky shores, especially in semi-exposed locations
Identification: Hard to mistake – up to 2m long yellowy brown spaghetti-like fronds, dividing near the base, growing from small, button-like holdfasts.
Edible Uses: Young fronds are good raw or pickled in salads. Once they get longer than about 20cm, they are best cooked. Full grown, they can be a little tough. As the name suggests, you can treat them like spaghetti.
Harvest: Best in spring and summer, becoming gradually tougher. Be sure to leave the perennial button-like holdfast intact to regrow.
Similar species: Mermaid’s tresses (Chorda filum) also has a spaghetti-like growth habit. It lacks the discoid holdfast of sea spaghetti, and tends to attach to rock and pebbles in sheltered shallow water, often harbours and marinas. Its holdfasts are seldom exposed, even at low spring tides. When picked from clean water it is edible and good, with a crunchier texture than sea spaghetti.
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