information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

A red seaweed (Drachiella spectabilis)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.



Drachiella spectabilis is a foliose red algae that is dark rose to rosy purple in colour with a brilliant blue and purple iridescence underwater. The short stout stipe, which is about 1 cm long, widens into very thin, dichotomously branching, flattened fronds up to 7 cm in length. There is no distinct midrib. The blades recurve and attach to the substratum with root like outgrowths from the frond tips.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Drachiella spectabilis has been recorded around south western and western coasts of the British Isles especially offshore islands and reefs.

Global distribution

Found from the British Isles to northern France.


Large patches of Drachiella spectabilis are found on bedrock and boulders especially horizontal or gently sloping rock. It is found in Laminaria hyperborea forest and below the limit of kelp at sites exposed to moderate wave action.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Short, stout midrib (1cm long).
  • Flattened, thin, dichotomously branching fronds (up to 7 cm long)
  • Dark rose to rosy purple with brilliant blue and purple iridescence underwater.
  • Root-like outgrowths from frond tips attach to substratum.

Additional information


Listed by

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Further information sources

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  1. Gibson, R., Hextall, B. & Rogers, A., 2001. Photographic guide to the sea and seashore life of Britain and north-west Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  2. Guiry, M.D. & Nic Dhonncha, E., 2002. AlgaeBase. World Wide Web electronic publication,

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]

  5. Maggs, C.A. & Hommersand, M.H., 1993. Seaweeds of the British Isles: Volume 1 Rhodophycota Part 3A Ceramiales. London: Natural History Museum, Her Majesty's Stationary Office.

  6. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017

  7. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.


This review can be cited as:

Ager, O.E.D. 2003. Drachiella spectabilis A red seaweed. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 22-09-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 01/07/2003