Sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca)

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Sea lettuce fact file

Sea lettuce description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumChlorophyta
ClassUlvophyceae
OrderUlvales
FamilyUlvaceae
GenusUlva (1)

Sea lettuce is a common green seaweed with a broad translucent frond (3) that is just 2 cell layers thick (2). This seaweed has a rather ‘crumpled’ appearance and is reminiscent of a lettuce leaf, hence the common name (4). The frond is typically bright green or dark green in colour with paler margins that are often white (2). It attaches to the substratum with a small disc-like holdfast, but in sheltered areas it may detach and live as large free-floating masses (2).

Also known as
green laver.
Size
Length: typically up to 100 mm, but may reach 300mm or more (2)
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Sea lettuce biology

In some parts of the world this seaweed is eaten as ‘green laver’ (3). It is also sold as a medicine in China (4).

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Sea lettuce range

This common species is ubiquitous around the British coastline (4) save for very exposed rocky shores (3). It is found almost worldwide (4).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Sea lettuce habitat

Found on all levels of the shore. It can tolerate brackish water and is also found in estuaries (3). It can also survive as a free-floating mass in sheltered waters (2).

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Sea lettuce status

Not threatened (3).

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Sea lettuce threats

This species is not threatened.

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Sea lettuce conservation

Not relevant.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Find out more

For more on this species see: Pizzolla, P. F. (2003) Ulva lactuca. Sea lettuce. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme. [On-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 27/11/2003]. Available on-line at:
http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/Ulvalactuca.htm

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Brackish
Slightly salty water.
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References

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September 2003)
    http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  2. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S. (1989) A student’s guide to the seashore. Unwin Hyman Ltd., London
  3. Pizzolla, P. F. (2003) Ulva lactuca. Sea lettuce. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme. [On-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 27/11/2003]. Available on-line at
    http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/Ulvalactuca.htm
  4. Gibson, R., Hextall, B. & Rogers, A. (2001) Photographic Guide to the Sea & Shore Life of Britain and North-west Europe. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
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Image credit

Sea lettuce underwater  
Sea lettuce underwater

© Sue Scott

Sue Scott
Strome House
North Strome
Loch Carron
Ross-shire
IV54 8YJ
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1520 722588
suescott153@btinternet.com

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