Bushy Feather Weed (Pterothamnion plumula)

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



A branched, tufted red seaweed, pink-rose to red-brown in colour and growing to 3-15 cm in height. One paired long and branching thallus covered in forked branches arranged like a comb. These comb branches bear further branchlets giving this plant the appearance of having tufts of fine flattened feathers. The branchlets produce gland cells that have a shiny appearance under a microscope. It attaches to the substrata by loose matted spreading rhizoidal filaments. 

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Widely distributed and common throughout Britain and Ireland.

Global distribution

Widely distributed in southwest Sweden and northwest France. Present in the Black Sea, along the coast of Spain, and the Mediterranean.


It grows in a wide variety of substrata including rocks, pebbles, artificial materials, other seaweeds and invertebrates and is most abundant in sandy or silty habitats. It is found in pools on the lower shore and from extreme low water to 20 m in depth at sites exposed to a variety of tidal currents and wave action. 

Depth range

Lower littoral to 20 m

Identifying features

  • Pink-rose to red-brown in colour.
  • Erect tufts of delicate feathery flattened branches.
  • Plants are delicate and flaccid in texture.
  • Growing 3 to 15 cm in height. 

Additional information

This is considered to be a relatively distinctive species. However, records in the southern hemisphere and the Adriatic Sea should be considered with caution (Guiry & Guiry, 2022). 

Listed by

- none -


  1. Bunker, F.StD.P., Brodie, J.A., Maggs, C.A. & Bunker, A.R., 2017. Seasearch Guide to Seaweeds of Britain and Ireland (Second edition). Plymouth: Wild Nature Press.

  2. Guiry, M.D. & Guiry, G.M. 2015. AlgaeBase [Online], National University of Ireland, Galway [cited 30/6/2015]. Available from: http://www.algaebase.org/

  3. 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.

  4. Sterry, P., Cleave, A.,2012. A photographic guide to every common species. Collins complete guide to British coastal wildlife. London: HarperCollins Publishers.  


  1. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-06-15


This review can be cited as:

Mardle, M.J., 2022. Pterothamnion plumula Bushy Feather Weed. In Tyler-Walters H. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 15-06-2024]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/2352

Last Updated: 19/01/2022