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Free Pretty Vintage Seaweed Prints and Illustrations

The beauty of the drawings and paintings in vintage natural history books never ceases to amaze me. That includes this colourful collection of vintage seaweed prints that I’m sharing here.

All these lovely illustrations are from the same book, “British sea-weeds: an introduction to the study of the marine algae of Great Britain, Ireland and the Channel Islands“, by Samuel Octavus Gray, published in 1867.

Interesting Facts About Seaweed & Algae

Seaweed isn’t just something you find on sushi! This is a collection of facts that you might not know, about this very important organism.

  • Interestingly seaweed isn’t a plant. It’s a type of algae. They rely on sunlight for photosynthesis, like plants, but don’t have the same structure.
  • Seaweed doesn’t have leaves, stems or roots. It anchors itself with holdfasts instead of roots. It uses blades rather than a root system to absorb nutrients.
  • There are three distinct types of seaweed, green, red and brown.
  • Green seaweed is the least common type of seaweed but is probably the one we are most familiar with. The group includes varieties that we eat, such as sea lettuce, nori, wakame and dashi. It’s most similar to plants. It’s believed plants evolved from the group.
  • Red seaweeds are the most diverse group and include some of the world’s oldest known organisms.
  • Gracilaria is a red seaweed harvested to make agar. Agar is a type of gelatine used in medical research, food production and many cosmetics.
  • Brown seaweed includes the kelp family and is the largest of the three varieties. It includes species such as kelp.
  • Brown seaweed is one of the fasted growing organisms. The giant kelp can grow nearly a metre a day, reaching lengths over 50m.
  • One of seaweed’s most important roles is in the production of oxygen. Through photosynthesis, seaweed and phytoplankton produce approximately 70% of the world’s oxygen.
  • Seaweeds are farmed for food, fertilizer, medicine, cosmetics and many industrial processes, including the production of a type of bio yarn.
  • Edible packaging can be made from seaweed.
  • Seaweeds are a superfood that absorbs minerals directly from the water around them. Rich in trace elements and vitamins, many of them contain more protein than meat and more calcium than milk.
  • Seaweed farming is a carbon negative crop, with a high potential for climate change mitigation
16 free vintage seaweed prints and illustrations

How To Print The Seaweed Prints and Illustrations

All the seaweed prints below are in the Public Domain and therefore copyright-free.

To print the illustration that you want, click on the title above it. A higher resolution image will open in a new window in your browser. Click on that image to save or print it.

Plate 1- British Seaweed

The key to the varieties of seaweed on the plate.

  1. Sargassum vulgare
    1 a, air-vessel.
    1 b, spore-receptacles.
  2. Halidrys siliquosa
    2 a, section of a receptacle, showing spores, magnified.
  3. Pycnophycus tuberculatus
    3 a, section of a receptacle, showing spores, magnified.
  4. Leathesia tuberiformis
    4 a, filaments with spores
British seaweed plate 1

Plate 2 – British Seaweed

  1. Fucus vesiculosus
    1 a, section of a receptacle, showing spores, magnified.
  2. Asperococcus Tumeri
    2 a, part of a frond, showing spore-clusters, magnified.
  3. Laurencia csespitosa
    3 a, tip of a branch, showing tetraspores, magnified.
vintage seaweed print

Seaweed & Algae drawings Plate – 3

I’ve used some of the seaweed illustrations on this plate in this under-the-sea collage.

  1. . Fucus noclosus, 1 a, segment of a spore-receptacle.
  2. Fucus anceps
    2 a, pointed spore-receptacle.
    2 I, branchlet with antheridia.
  3. Haliseris polypodioides
    3 a, portion of frond with sorus.
  4. Sphacelaria filicina
    4 a, a pinna, magnified.
British Algae prints

Plate 4

  1. Fucus canaliculatus
    1 a, part of a spore-receptacle.
    1 b, a section of spore-receptacle.
  2. Delesseria ruscifolia
    2 a, tip of a leaf with spore-conceptacle; magnified.
  3. Schizymenia edulis
    3 a, section of a frond, showing spore- clusters, magnified
Seaweed print 4

Plate 5 Winged and Sugar Kelp

Alaria esculenta is more commonly known as dabberlocks or winged kelp. It grows up to 2 meters in length and is a traditional food along the coasts of the far north Atlantic Ocean. It’s eaten both raw and cooked in Greenland, Iceland, Scotland and Ireland.

Saccharina latissima is a brown seaweed, more commonly known by the name sugar kelp.

  1. Alaria esculenta
    1 a, section of part of a sorus; magnified.
  2. Laminaria saccharina
    2 a, slice of a frond, magnified.
Winged and sugar kelp

Plate 6-laver

Porphyra is a family of coldwater seaweeds that grow in cold, shallow seawater. More specifically, it belongs to the red group of seaweeds of laver species (from which comes laverbread), 

  1. Laminaria Phyllitis
    1 a, slice of the frond, magnified.
  2. Lomentaria ovalis
    2 a, a branchlet with spore-conceptacles, magnified.
    2 b, a branchlet with tetraspores, magnified.
  3. Porphyra vulgaris
    3 a, vertical section of the frond, magnified.
Vintage seaweed and algae prints

Plate 7

Padina pavonica is a distinctive small brown alga growing to a diameter of up to 10 cm more commonly known as peacocks tail.

  1. Chorda lomentaria
    1a, transverse section of part of a frond, magnified.
  2. Padina pavonia
    2 a, recurved margin, magnified. 2 b, fringe, magnified.
    2 c, young sorus, magnified.
    2 d, old sorus, magnified.
  3. Dictyota dichotoma
    3 a, sorus.
  4. Elachista fucicola
    4a, branched thread of tubercle, with spore, magnified.
  5. Melobesia polymorpha
    5 a, portion of a frond, showing spore conceptacles, magnified.
British seaweed drawings and illustrations

Plate 8 – Red Seaweed Prints

1 . Odonthalia dentata
1 a, branchlet with spore-conceptacles, magnified.
1 b, branchlet with stichidia, magnified.

2. Nitophyllum punctatum
2 a, sorus, magnified.

Catenella opuntia
3 a. fronds, magnified.
3 b, branch with spore-conceptacle, magnified

Plate 8 red seaweed prints

Plate 9 More Red Seaweed and Algae

Gelidium corneum is a well-known seaweed, harvested worldwide for its high agar quality.

1 . Poiysiphonia parasitica
1 a, branchlet with spores, magnified.
1 b, branchlet with tetraspores, magnified.

  1. Gelidium corneum
    2 a, branchlet with spores, magnified.
    2 b, branchlet with tetraspores, magnified.
  2. Halymenia ligulata
    3 a, section of frond with spores, magnified.
    4. Griffithsia corallina
    4 a, part of the branch with tetraspores, magnified. 4 b, spore -clusters, magnified
agar seaweed

Plate 10 – Seaweed and Algae Illustrations

  1. Bonnemaisonia asparagoides
    1 a, branch with spore- conceptacles, magnified.
  2. Wrangelia multifida
    2 a, part of a branch, magnified.
    2 b, tetraspores, magnified.
  3. Callophyllis laciniata
    3 a, spore-conceptacles magnified.
Seaweed and Algae prints

Plate 11 -Red Algae

Nitophyllum is a type of red algae that secures itself to rocky substrates or other algae by a discoid holdfast.

Gloiosiphonia capillaris is also known as sticky tube weed, it grows in the rock pools of the North Atlantic.

  1. Nitophyllum laperatum
    1 a, marginal processes with tetraspores, magnified.
  2. Chyloclaclia articulata
    2 a, part of a branch with spores, magnified.
  3. Gloiosiphonia capillaris
    3 a, branchlet with fructification, magnified.
  4. Callithamnion plumula
    4 a, spore-clusters, magnified.
Red algae prints

Plate 12 – British Red Seaweed & Algae Prints

  1. Sphserococcus coronopifolius
    1 a, branchlet with spores, magnified.
  2. Maugeria sanguinea
    2 a, midrib with spore-leaflets.
  3. Ptilota plumosa
    3 a, comb-like branchlet, magnified. 3 b, spore-clusters, magnified.
Samuel Gray plate 12

Plate 13 – Brown Algae

Desmarestia aculeata is a species of brown algae found worldwide. Its common names include colour changer, Desmarest’s flattened weed, and sea sorrel.

  1. Desmarestia aculeata
    1 a, branchlet of a young frond, magnified.
  2. Cladostephus verticillatus
    2 a, whorls of branchlets, magnified. 2 b, branchlets, magnified.
    2 c, branclilets with spores, magnified.
  3. Ulva latissirna
    3 a, cellules of upper layer of frond, magnified
Plate 13 British seaweeds

Plate 14 – Sea lettuce and other Algae

Enteromorpha intestinalis is more commonly known as sea lettuce.

  1. Sporochnus pedunculatus
    1 a, a mature receptacle, magnified.
  2. Codium bursa
    2 a, fibres of frond, magnified.
  3. Enteromorpha intestinalis
    3 a, small portion of the frond, magnified.
  4. Calothrix confervicola {on Ceramium rubrum)
    4 a, proliferous thread, magnified. 4 b, spores, magnified.
    4 c, portion of the thread, magnified.
sea lettuce and other

Plate 15 – More Green Algae

  1. Striaria attenuata
    1a, part of a branch, with spores,
  2. Cladophora laetevirens
    2 a, part of a branch, magnified.
  3. Cladophora lanosa
    3 a, part of a branch, magnified.
  4. Chaetomorpha Melagonium
    4 a, cells of thread, magnified.
Green algae vintage print

Plate 16 – Green Seaweed Drawings

Bryopsis plumosa, sometimes known by the common names green algae or hen pen, is a type of green seaweed.

  1. Bryopsis plumosa
    1 a, a plumule, magnified.
  2. Euteromorpba compressa
    2 a, part of a frond, magnified.
  3. Cladophora falcata
    3 a, branch, magnified
Green seaweed

For more amazing algae prints you should check out the stunning nature art form prints of Ernst Haeckel. There is also a fabulous vintage seaweed poster with the Adolphe Millot sealife collection.

Other wonderful prints to check out in the vintage sea life image collection on the site are the colourful Great Barrier reef coral prints.

You might also like these lovely black and white mushroom drawings.


Sunday 21st of April 2024

I am blown away by these.


Monday 22nd of April 2024

Thank you, they are lovely prints.


Saturday 11th of February 2023

Thank you! Absolutely beautiful illustrations!


Monday 13th of February 2023

Thank you, glad you like them.


Saturday 11th of June 2022

Fabulous art and a great selection of images. Perfect for papercrafting. Thank you as always for such wonderful finds.


Tuesday 14th of June 2022

Thank you,they are lovely prints, great for decoupage and scrapbooking.


Thursday 9th of June 2022

Who knew seaweed could be so pretty?! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm--pinned!


Tuesday 14th of June 2022

Thank you, yes they do look very pretty.


Thursday 9th of June 2022

Beautiful artwork and interesting facts. Thanks for sharing 🙏


Thursday 9th of June 2022

Thank you, glad you enjoyed them.