information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

A brown seaweed (Bifurcaria bifurcata)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.



Up to 50 cm in length. Olive-yellow in colour, but much darker when dry. Holdfast expanded and knobbly. Frond cylindrical, unbranched near base then branching dichotomously. Elongate reproductive bodies present at ends of branches. Rounded air bladders sometimes present.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Bifurcaria bifurcata is a southern species found on the Atlantic coast of France, Spain and Portugal and extending to the south and west coasts of England and the west coast of Ireland where it is sometimes common. It is absent from Scotland.

Global distribution



Bifurcaria bifurcata is usually found in rock pools on the middle and lower shore, particularly on exposed beaches. It also forms a low water zone in some locations in south-west England and west Ireland.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Sterile tips to fronds are rounded and slightly enlarged.
  • Air bladders, if present, are small.
  • Unlike the other fucoids, Bifurcaria bifurcata has no disc-like holdfast.

Additional information

Bifurcaria bifurcata is perennial and hermaphroditic.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:


  1. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  2. Hardy, F.G. & Guiry, M.D., 2003. A check-list and atlas of the seaweeds of Britain and Ireland. London: British Phycological Society

  3. Hiscock, K., Southward, A., Tittley, I., Jory, A. & Hawkins, S., 2001. The impact of climate change on subtidal and intertidal benthic species in Scotland. Scottish National Heritage Research, Survey and Monitoring Report , no. 182., Edinburgh: Scottish National Heritage

  4. Hiscock, S., 1979. A field key to the British brown seaweeds (Phaeophyta). Field Studies, 5, 1- 44.

  5. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  6. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017


This review can be cited as:

Skewes, M. 2008. Bifurcaria bifurcata A brown seaweed. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 22-09-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 29/05/2008