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

A red seaweed (Phyllophora crispa)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.
Only coastal and marine records shown



A bright red or pink seaweed. Each plant has a small disk-shaped base and erect fronds. The fronds consist of short cylindrical stipes (stalks) rarely longer than 1cm long and blades which may be up to 15 cm long and 10 mm wide. The fronds are dichotomously branched, with undulating margins and an indistinct midrib. The tip of each frond is distinctly rounded. The fronds are perennial and in some case 5 or 6 new periods of growth can be identified. Regeneration occurs following erosion or animal grazing. Continual regeneration leads to great variation in the appearance of individual plants as each new growth could come from the end, margin or surface of the blade. Fronds are frequently encrusted with the spiral tube worm Spirorbis spirorbis or bryozoans.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Phyllophora crispa occurs on all coasts around the British Isles. Records from eastern England are few, probably reflecting a lack of suitable substrata.

Global distribution



Phyllophora crispa grows on rock subtidally to depths of 30 m and is commonly found in shady pools in lower intertidal areas.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Flat red or pink fronds.
  • Short fronds with undulating margins.
  • Tips of fronds are rounded.
  • Holds its shape out of water.
  • Due to continual regeneration, successive growth episodes on each plant can be easily identified.

Additional information

Phyllophora crispa is a cartilaginous seaweed and can, therefore, hold its shape out of water.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

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  1. 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.

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

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

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

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

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


This review can be cited as:

Heard, J.R. 2005. Phyllophora crispa 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 16-08-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 14/02/2005