Factsheets for Brown Seaweeds (phylum Phaeophyta)

Genus: Macrocystis Trade names: macrocystis Symbol: MR
AuthorityC. Agardh Type species: Macrocystis pyrifera (Linnaeus) C. Agardh
Commercial species:  integrifolia (INT), pyrifera (PYR)
Common names: Birnentang, Brown kelp, Giant bladder kelp, Giant Kelp
Classification: Eukaryota, Phylum Heterokontophyta, Order Laminariales, Family Lessoniaceae.
AlgaeBase names and species:  12 names - 4 current as of 12-2001.
Comprehensive lists of common names , generic & specific names can be found at AlgaeBase. >>Click here<<  for SuriaLink's policy on names.
SuriaLink SeaPlant Utility Rating
Major alginate source - wild harvest from managed beds.
Careful management of harvest required to prevent habitat damage.
Large Macrocystis are comprised of fronds, stipes, and a holdfast. Each plant has a conical holdfast at it's base. 50 or more stipes as long as 60 meters and hundreds of fronds may arise form a holdfast. Fronds have serrated edges and can be up to One metre in length. At the base of each blade is a gas filled bladder called a pneumatocyst. Specialized fronds called sporophylls are located at the base of the plants. These produce spores. At the sea surface stipes continue grow horizontally and form a "kelp forest" canopy. See a morer thorough description at the Macrocystis site of Mark Readdie.
Forms kelp forests parallel to the seacoast on rocky substrates from a depth of about 5-30 meters. Tend to be confined to upwelling water areas. Create reef habitats that support diverse flora and fauna.

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Macrocystis production
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Tons per annum
wild harvest
Tons per annum
Argentina 20 0
Australia 14 0
Canada n/a 0
Chile 2,510 0
Mexico 8,800 0
Peru n/a 0
USA 14,721  


26,065 0
Approximate annual production figures from recent years are as above.
Biology & Agronomy
Wild harvest from carefully managed beds generally using large mechanical harvesters.
Contains alginates.
We have several monographs in progress covering analytical procedures post-harvest treatment and process technology. Check the processing index for available web pages and monographs. 
Products, Uses & Applications
Major source of alginates.
List of species' uses and community affiliations
Genus GenID SpID Species Uses Communities
Macrocystis MR INT integrifolia FA, FI, FF, IA, PA AI, BP
Macrocystis MR PYR pyrifera FA, FI, FF, IA, PA AI, BP

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Macrocystis is most strongly associated with the Agro-Industry and  Biopolymer communities.
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