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Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet

Enteromorpha compressa (Linnaeus) Greville.

Phylum Chlorophyta – Order Ulvales – Family Ulvaceae

Selected citations: Bliding 1948: 128, figs 6–9, 10e-h; 1963: 132, figs 82–84. Womersley 1956: 352.

Thallus (Fig. 50B, C, 51 D) medium green, 2–20 (–40) cm high, erect and basally attached, usually much branched from near the base and often from above, occasionally with few basal branches only; branches broadening above, either remaining terete and 3–10 (–20) mm in diameter, or commonly becoming compressed and 0.5–3 (–6) cm broad, with the cell layers adjacent but not attached and the margins remaining saccate and in some forms becoming ruffled. Cells (Fig. 51E, F) un-ordered at least in upper stipe and lower blade, but above with mixture of un-ordered areas and patches where rows of cells have developed by localised divisions; cells polygonal to rounded, 10–14 (–16) µm across, square to rectangular when in rows; chloroplast laminate, filling most of the cell in surface view, with a single pyrenoid (two in larger cells prior to division).

Reproduction: Reproduction (Bliding 1963, p. 132): generations isomorphic, gametophytes dioecious, anisogamous.

Selected specimens: Topgallant I., off Eyre Pen., S. Aust., 20–25 m deep (Shepherd, 8.xi.1980; ADU, A51882). Boston I., Port Lincoln, S. Aust., upper sublittorial (Womersley, 14.v.1968; ADU, A32508). American River inlet, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., on red buoy (Womersley, 17.viii.1954; ADU, A 19774). Rosetta Bay, Victor Harbor, S. Aust., uppermost sublittoral (Womersley, 19.vii.1980; ADU, A51252-"Marine Algae of southern Australia" No. 217, and A51248-"Marine Algae of southern Australia" No. 188, as E. linza). Of the above specimens, A51252 has slender terete branches while others are compressed, usually (scarcely in A51882) with ruffled margins (A51248).

Distribution map based
on current data relating to
specimens held in the
State Herbarium of SA

Distribution: Cosmopolitan.

Throughout southern Australia, often common in shallow water and recorded to 25 m deep.

Taxonomic notes: Type from Hoburgen, Baltic Sea; lost (see Sliding 1963, p. 132).

Two forms of E. compressa occur on southern Australian coasts. One (Fig. 50C) has a much branched thallus from near the base and some branches above, remaining terete and less than 1 cm broad. The other (Figs 50B, 51D) has relatively few branches from near the base and is unbranched above and strongly compressed, usually 0.5–3 cm broad, with the margins becoming strongly ruffled.

The latter form, when with very few branches from near the base, has been incorrectly placed under E. linza (e.g. "Marine Algae of southern Australia" No. 188). The thallus does not have prominent rows of cells throughout as does E. linza, the cells are smaller than in the latter species and the thallus is coarser and less delicate than the "silky" thallus of E. linza.

Bliding (1948) separated E. compressa and E. intestinalis essentially on the basis that the former is branched and the latter unbranched. This separation needs caution in herbarium specimens where individual fronds may have been separated from the base, but nearly all the southern Australian specimens referred to E. compressa do have branches from near the base. Bliding (1963) also considered that E. compressa has cell rows in parts of the upper thallus whereas E. intestinalis does not. In this respect also, most southern Australian material agrees with E. compressa.


BLIDING, C. (1948). Ober Enteromorpha intestinalis und compressa. Bot. Notiser 1948, 123–136.

BLIDING, C. (1963). A critical survey of European taxa in Ulvales. Part I. Capsosiphon, Percursaria, Blidingia, Enteromorpha. Opera Bot. 8(3), 1–160.

WOMERSLEY, H.B.S. (1956). A critical survey of the marine algae of southern Australia. I. Chlorophyta. Aust. J. mar. freshw. Res. 7, 343–383.

The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia Part I complete list of references.

Author: H.B.S. Womersley

Publication: Womersley, H.B.S. (31 May, 1984)
The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia
Part I
©Board of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium, Government of South Australia

Illustrations in Womersley Part I, 1984: FIGS 50B, C, 51 D–F.

Figure 50 image

Figure 50   enlarge

Fig. 50. A. Enteromorpha clathrata (ADU, A19775). B. Enteromorpha compressa, compressed and ruffled form (ADU, A51248). C. Enteromorpha compressa, terete form (ADU, A51252). D. Enteromorpha intestinalis (ADU, A 10136).

Figure 51 image

Figure 51   enlarge

Fig. 51. A. Enteromorpha flexuosa (ADU, A43697). Surface view of cells. B,C. Enteromorpha clathrata (ADU, A 19775). B. Surface view of cells. C. Chloroplast and pyrenoids of a single cell. D–F. Enteromorpha compressa (ADU, A51248). D. Branch of compressed, ruffled form. E. Surface view of cells of terete form (ADU, A51252). F. Surface view of cells of compressed form (A51248). G,H. Enteromorpha intestinalis (ADU, A52030). G. Surface view of cells. H. Cross section of part of thallus.

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