The phenology and seasonal growth of Porphyra linearis Grev. were investigated in two morphologically dissimilar populations from the west coast of Ireland. Thallus size and reproductive status of individuals were monitored monthly between June 1997 and June 1998. Both populations exhibited a similar phenology: gametophyte stages appeared on the shore in October, with spermatangial and zygotosporangial sori appearing the following February; the gametophyte stage began to degenerate in April and had disappeared completely by June. However, significant differences in growth and reproduction in the field and in cultures of plants from the two populations were observed. Thallus length and width of individuals from one population were significantly longer throughout the sample period, and reproduction and sporulation occurred 1 month earlier. Also, in situ relative growth rates (RGRs) of plants differed significantly and were correlated with different climatic factors (sunshine, day length, irradiance, rainfall, seawater temperature, and intertidal temperatures), suggesting that plants were affected by two different microhabitats. At one site, blades were more exposed to wave action, sunshine, and extreme minimum temperatures, while at the other site, blades were more protected in winter, spring, and early summer. In culture, RGRs of blades from the second site were higher than RGRs of blades from the first site under short days, corroborating the field results and suggesting a degree of phenotypic differentiation between the two populations. However, there were no sequence divergences of the RUBISCO spacer between strains of the two P. linearis populations.