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

Eyelash weed (Calliblepharis ciliata)

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



Calliblepharis ciliata is bright to dark red in colour. The main blade is erect and forms into a wedge shape or ovate lobe that expands into a dichotomous or irregularly divided blade up to 7 cm broad and 30 cm long and 350-650 µm thick (Dixon & Irvine, 1977). Small branches arise from the main blade. Calliblepharis ciliata can vary considerably in blade width and degree of subdivision. In southeastern England its blades are often only 10-15 µm thick. The branchlets (proliferations) that arise from the margins of the blade are either pointed or rounded. Patches of encrusting bryozoans are very common on old specimens.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Recorded on the Orkneys and the coast of Yorkshire but predominently from the south east to the west coast of England, around the coast of Ireland and the west coast of Scotland.

Global distribution



Epilithic, occasionally epiphytic. It is found down to depths of 21 m, sometimes extending into pools in the lower littoral. It may also be found forming dense stands on muddy rocks.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Dull red colour.
  • Flat oval frond.
  • Conspicuous claw like holdfast.
  • Ovate shaped lobes.
  • Short stem.
  • The margins of the blade are fringed with branched or simple branchlets (proliferations) up to 5 mm long and can sometimes appear on the surface of the blade.

Additional information

Calliblepharis ciliata is a gametangial plant with both male and female reproductive organs. The reproductive bodies are not confined to the marginal branchlets but are equally common on those which grow out from the surface of the frond. The male reproductive structures (spermatangia) appear in large superficial sori on young blades. The female reproductive structures (cystocarps) appear as a protruding mass 1- 2 mm in diameter that become visible in September along the margins of the branchlets. The asexual reproductive structures (tetrasporangia) appear in groups of large sori on the blade surface and margins, that grow to 65 to 75 µm x 40 to 45 µm in diameter and are recorded from October to April (Dixon & Irvine, 1977).

Calliblepharis ciliata is very similar to Palmaria palmata. However, the latter has a disc shaped holdfast. Calliblepharis jubata is also similar to Calliblepharis ciliata but has several fronds arising from a branched stem and during the summer branches appear long and tendril like. Calliblepharis jubata has a thinner frond, and is normally less than 7 cm broad with longer branchlets (3 cm long). The cystoscarps of Calliblepharis jubata become visible in April, and spermatangia from June - July and mature throughout the summer, whereas Calliblepharis ciliata mature throughout the winter (Dixon & Irvine, 1977).

Listed by

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Further information sources

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  1. Bunker, F., Perrins, J., Maggs, C.A. & Bunker, A., 2003. British Isles Seaweed Images. [On-line], 2004-01-23

  2. Dickinson, C.I., 1963. British seaweeds. London & Frome: Butler & Tanner Ltd.

  3. Dixon, P.S. & Irvine, L.M., 1977. Seaweeds of the British Isles. Volume 1 Rhodophyta. Part 1 Introduction, Nemaliales, Gigartinales. London: British Museum (Natural History) London.

  4. Hardy, F.G. & Guiry, M.D., 2003. A check-list and atlas of the seaweeds of Britain and Ireland. London: British Phycological Society

  5. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  6. Hiscock, S., 1986b. A field key to the British Red Seaweeds. Taunton: Field Studies Council. [Occasional Publication No.13]

  7. 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.]

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


This review can be cited as:

Sabatini, M. 2005. Calliblepharis ciliata Eyelash weed. 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 24-09-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 01/08/2005