Colonies of this common soft coral are variable in shape, forming large irregular masses up to 250mm high, usually with a few blunt 'fingers' which are usually more than 30mm in diameter. The colour varies from white to dull orange with yellowish or brownish colonies occurring occasionally; the polyps are translucent white. On the west coast of Ireland almost all colonies are orange in colour. The other two species of dead mens fingers in this area are Alcyonium glomeratum
and Alcyonium hibernicum
but these are much rarer and are unlikely to be confused with this species.