Sea Lettuce – Edibility, Identification, Distribution

Ulva lactuca and Ulva rigida

Sea lettuce Image by Kristian Peters

Sea lettuce
Image by Kristian Peters, Wikimedia commons

  • Habitat: A common and easy to identify seaweed found in rockpool edges and clinging to rocks and (epiphytically) to other larger seaweeds, between mean high and low tide marks on sheltered to semi-exposed coast.
  • Distribution: 4/5 – Common within its season and habitat, seldom hard to find
  • Identification: 5/5 – Vibrant, thin green sheets, up to 45cm long (usually less). Pale green when young, bright green when mature, dark green when old. If it looks tubular you probably have gutweed, which can be used in similar ways but is much harder to clean.
  • Harvest: Best February – July, still useable up to September
  • Edibility: 5/5 Sea lettuce is pleasant if unspectacular fresh, becoming truly delicious when dried – with a rich deep flavour. Eat as crisps or crumble over soups, stews, salads, fish, sushi etc. Not really one for cooking, but pickles well. Very high in protein. Wash thoroughly and dry in a dehydrator, warm, airy spot, or in the sun until bone dry and crumbly.
Sea lettuce drying

Sea lettuce drying

Sea lettuce is high in umami and I use it in my Umami Pickle, made with pepper dulse, dried cep, cloveroot syrup and ground ivy vinegar. Its culinary dynamite.

Sun dried sea lettuce

Sun dried sea lettuce

Related pages:

Salt baked celeriac, pickled sea lettuce and ramson capers

Salt baked celeriac, pickled sea lettuce and ramson capers


  • Ross Lowry says:

    Hi Mark,
    really nice to see you have time to update us all on seasonal edibles, and have gone to a lot of trouble to produces a colourful and very tasty looking website.
    Only one problem, it my be my lack of techy experience, or my pc but I cannot seem to read the descriptions of the wild food your are so expertly giving advice on. The beautiful and very colourful backround picture is obscuring the text and making it near imposible to read. Please tell me I need to press another button as I am a keen follower of your website and blogs.

    kind regards.

    • mark says:

      Hi Ross,
      Thanks for your nice feedback and for flagging up this issue.
      Since redesigning over the winter/early spring, I haven’t heard of any other issues like this (most people have found it clearer than the old website), so I suspect the issue may be with your PC, browser, monitor or, hopefully, just your brightness/contrast settings (on both computer and monitor)? Please have a play around with all the above and let me know if you are still having problems.
      If viewing issues persist, it would be really useful to know what computer, monitor, browser etc you are using so I can work out where the issue is and explore fixes at my end.
      Thanks again for taking the time to flag this up.

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