Palmaria palmata

Palmaria palmata is one of the most common reds found along our shores, often seen washed up on the beach from midsummer through to October, It grows along the Atlantic seaboard from Portugal to Norway and along the northerly coasts of Iceland, Canada, USA, Russia and the Baltic.

Palmaria palmata

                                                               Palmaria palmata

Distinguishable by its dark brownish-red flat blades of about 3-6 cms across and up to 50 cms long springing from a discoid holdfast, it lives in the midlittoral zone, quite often attached as an epiphyte to stipes of Laminaria. When splayed out on the sand, it resembles a Rorschach test, or the imprint of a firework explosion.

Commonly known as dulse, dilsk or red sea lettuce, it has been a source of food for centuries to the people of these lands, (St Columba’s monks ate it from the shores of Iona 1400 years ago).  It was particularly welcome in the lean months of early spring, as it grows from February in the relatively temperate seawater while land-based vegetation is still in hibernation. As with most seaweeds, it is high in protein and contains all the essential trace elements, as well as being a good source of minerals and vitamins. It is regularly harvested in Ireland where it is eaten dried and uncooked as a snack. In Scotland and across the Mediterranean, it is more commonly fried as a vegetable or used to flavour soups and stews. It can also be given as fodder to animals.

Recent Posts

St Abbs Visitor Centre


Seaweeds in GlassI was delighted to be asked to exhibit my seaweeds at the St Abbs Visitor Centre over the summer season from March to October this year.  The first installation has gone in, with some larger pieces to follow in coming months

Perched on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the ancient harbour, the centre holds a commanding view of St Abbs Head and the jagged coastline that delineates the edge of the National Nature Reserve.  This reserve, stretching as far as the eye can see is home and sanctuary to 100’s of species of birds, sea and shore life.  It has witnessed an astonishing repopulation of seabed species due to a prohibition on trawler fishing and has gained an international reputation for superb diving.

JillWatson_StAbbsSurvivors2On the high bluff just outside the centre stands a beautiful memorial to the women and children survivors of the Eyemouth Disaster of 1890.  Created by sculptress Jill Watson, it keens the loss of life, love and livelihood scoured into the sea on that fateful day.

  1. Californian Corallinas Leave a reply
  2. RBGE – Seaweed Herbaria Day Leave a reply
  3. Rock pools in Spring Leave a reply
  4. Scottish Seabird Centre Exhibition Leave a reply
  5. Edge of the Sea Exhibition opens Leave a reply
  6. Edge of the Sea Leave a reply
  7. Sea Leaves 2 Replies
  8. Californian seas 2 Replies
  9. Anna Atkins’ Cyanotypes 2 Replies