St. Lawrence species

Saccorhiza dermatodea

Saccorhiza dermatodea

Type of resource

  • Algae
  • Brown algae

Other names

Leathery kelp

Status of the resource

  • Not a cause for concern

In season

Not yet available in Quebec.

SIZE : From 2 m to 3 m.

LIFE EXPECTANCY : Less than one year.

LIFE CYCLE : In the Gaspé Peninsula, the fronds of leathery kelp are fertile from late September to December.

The algae releases spores, then dies, slowly degrading throughout the winter. The spores give birth to organisms called gametophytes. It is in this form that the algae hibernates. The following spring, the gametophytes produce male and female reproductive cells. When these cells meet, new leathery kelp is formed.

The algae grows from the area between the stipe and the frond. Even if its tips are damaged, it will continue to grow.

Leathery kelp has very large blades, often split lengthwise and dotted with tufts of short hair. Its stipe is flat, flexible, and tough. The algae is golden-brown in color. It clings to the substrate by means of an umbrella-shaped holdfast with a fringe of long tubes.

Coastal zone, in cold waters.

This tough kelp favors a turbulent environment, to ensure a constant renewal of the nutrients around it.


Solar energy


Herbivorous mol-luscs
Green urchins

MACHINES : Hand harvesting.

Permit required.

This algae is not yet harvested commercially, although it was grown experimentally in Quebec in 2017.

Little is known about the taste or commercial value of leathery kelp.

Generally speaking, algae are renowned for their health benefits. They are low in fat, and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In particular, brown algae are rich in iodine, which is essential for the thyroid gland. However, a moderate intake is recommended, particularly for pregnant women or people at risk of thyroid problems.

Little information available.

Leathery kelp is probably similar to kombu for culinary purposes. Like a bay leaf, it is removed after cooking, leaving behind its taste-enhancing glutamates.

The waters of the St. Lawrence are known for their good quality. However, as algae absorb the elements present in the water in order to grow, it is preferable to make sure that the harvesting site is clean before eating them fresh.