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Ulva lactuca is a thin flat green alga growing from a discoid holdfast. The margin is somewhat ruffled and often torn. It may reach 18 centimetres long . The membrane is two cells thick, soft and translucent, and grows attached, without a stipe, to rocks or other algae by a small disc-shaped holdfast. Green to dark green in colour. There are other species of Ulva which are similar and not always easy to differentiate.
Stranded on the beach sand