Peacock's tail

Padina pavonica


Peacock's tail (Padina pavonica) © Lin Baldock

This brown seaweed, which has a yellowish colour is found in rock pools on the mid to lower rocky shore, and to a depth of up to 20m, depending on the amount of light.

The seaweed is shaped like a curved fan, and can become more funnel-like when the plant is mature. On the outside, it has brown and olive bands, while the inside can be a bright lime green.

The peacock’s tail has a varied texture: the inner surface has a thin coating of slime, while the outer one is covered with lines of small, fine hairs. 

This is an annual seaweed; it dies down in the autumn to reappear the next summer.

Peacock’s tail generally prefers southern waters but the influence of the Gulf Stream allows it to survive on the south and west coasts of Britain. Historically, it has been recorded from the south coasts of England and Ireland and from Pembrokeshire but now appears to be confined to the Isle of Wight, Dorset and Devon.  As it is already disappearing from British coasts, protection is very important to ensure that the peacock’s tail does not vanish entirely.


Other common names

Turkey-feather algae


European distribution

Peacock’s tail is recorded from the Isle of Wight, Dorset and Devon, although has in the past been more widely distributed along the south coasts of England and Ireland and in Pembrokeshire. The British Isles are the northernmost limit of its range, (it occurs as far south as Mauritania), and it is also found in the Mediterranean and Black Seas.


Conservation status/needPeacock's Tail Fact

  • This is a UK BAP Priority Species (BAP species are now Species of Principal Importance/Priority Species).
  • Species of principal importance for the purpose of conservation of biodiversity under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006
  • Nationally scarce species


Further information

Marine Life Information Network

JNCC - UK BAP Priority Species and Habitats