Epiphytic Reds, a Cherry On Top

In tide pools or the drift line, epiphytic reds keep things interesting. These are delicate red algae that attach to plants or other algae. Their variety is high and field identification is a challenge.

Red fringe, Smithora naiadum, probably, on surfgrass in a low sand-filled tide pool

I’ve browsed enough field guides and web resources to propose that the epiphyte in the photo above is red fringe, Smithora naiadum, but there is another possibility, a fringing Porphyra. Experts use a microscope to recognize the difference. Are you brave enough to guess which red epiphyte has hitched a ride on the the bladder chain below?

Bladder chain, Stephanocystis osmundacea, with a delicate epiphytic red

Beautiful bladder chain isn’t common on my home beaches in northern Oregon. Seasons passed and I didn’t get to see it’s chains of bead-like pneumatocysts in person. The photo above is from my first encounter, in the drift line, on a southern Oregon beach – what a treat. The anonymous little red is a Cherry on Top.

If you have thoughts about what the epiphyte on the bladder chain might be, please drop me a line.

My Brown Algae page contains a couple other images bladder chain, and some other common browns.


  1. How interesting, although I must admit I do not understand much of this! LOL! But it’s all pretty and found in the sea, so I love it.

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