The order Pennatulacea covers a group of specialized and morphologically distinct octocorals found in all oceans from intertidal areas to more than 6000 m in depth. Sea pens constitute an important structural component in marine soft-bottom communities by increasing the complexity of these environments. Despite being both morphologically distinctive and ecologically important, the taxonomy and systematics of sea pens is still poorly understood. Recent molecular studies have shown the existence of convergent morphological features, making the current familial distribution of genera unstable. The genus Pennatula Linnaeus, 1758 was one of the first described octocoral genera. It is the type genus of its family, Pennatulidae. Colonies of this genus have a characteristic morphology. Recent sampling efforts in the northeastern Atlantic have provided a number of colonies initially attributable to the genus Pennatula. Both morphological and molecular (mtMutS, Cox1 and 28S genes) study of this material supports the polyphyletic nature of this genus and the need to resurrect the genus Ptilella Gray, 1870 to accommodate these and other species. A new species, Ptilella grayi n. sp., is described and illustrated. The species Pennatula bayeri is proposed to be a junior synonym of Pennatula bellissima (here also considered in the genus Ptilella).