Designs in the Drift

One morning this past summer, I picked drifted kelp out of the sea wrack and spread it on clean beach sand to show the designs. Folks know the three kelps shown below as tree, split, and dense-clumped—names that more or less describe their body plans. So you probably won’t have much trouble matching the names to the body plans. Or will you?

The kelps shown above washed ashore in tangles. Can you match the drifted mass below with one of the kelps laid out above?

That’s right; it’s Lessoniopsis littoralis.

For anyone still curious about matching the common names of these kelps with their images, tree, strap, or pompom kelp are names applied to Lessoniopsis littoralis. Likewise, split or stiff-stiped kelp are used for Laminaria setchellii. The only common name I’ve seen for Laminaria sinclairii, dense-clumped kelp, is rarely used.

Shapes and Designs


  1. Wonderful! I didn’t know about the different types of kelp. Thanks for sharing this with us. I like your mini lesson and photos as well. Beautifully captured.

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