Biodiversity & Conservation

Purple laver - Porphyra umbilicalis

Purple laver

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Distribution map

Porphyra umbilicalis recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

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Porphyra umbilicalis is not listed under any importance categories.

Taxonomy icon Taxonomy Taxon English term
Phylum Rhodophyta Red seaweeds
Class Rhodophyceae
Authority (Linnaeus) Kutzing
Recent synonyms None
Map icon Recorded Distribution in Britain and Ireland Abundant on rocky shores throughout Britain and Ireland.
Habitat information icon Habitat information Purple laver is highly adaptable to conditions on different parts of the rocky shore and able to withstand prolonged periods of exposure to the air as well as tolerating a greater degree of wave action than most other red algae. It occurs singly or in dense colonies throughout the intertidal but most frequently at upper levels.
Text page icon Description A small red alga (up to 20 cm across) with an irregularly shaped, broad frond that is membranous but tough. The plant attaches to rock via a minute discoid hold-fast, is greenish when young becoming purplish-red and has a polythene-like texture.
Identifying features
  • A small red seaweed, up to 20 cm across
  • Tough irregularly shaped broad frond.
  • Small disc-like holdfast.
  • Greenish when young becoming purplish-red.
  • Has a polythene-like texture
Additional information icon Additional information Also known as sloke, the plant is boiled and eaten as a jelly in South Wales. Used to make laver bread a famous dish in south Wales and reportedly eaten cold with vinegar in Cornwall.

This review can be cited as follows:

Paolo Pizzolla 2008. Porphyra umbilicalis. Purple laver. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 29/11/2015]. Available from: <>