Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet

Polyphysa peniculus (R. Brown ex Turner) C. Agardh 1823: 473.

Phylum Chlorophyta – Order Dasycladales – Family Polyphysaceae

Selected citations: Bailey, Rezak & Cox 1976: 17, figs 18–21. Harvey 1858: pl. II.


Fucus peniculus R. Brown ex Turner 1819: 78, pl. 228 (probably published before 1816, see below).

Polyphysa australis Lamarck 1816: 152.

Polyphysa aspergillosa Lamouroux 1816: 252, pl. 8 fig. 2.

Polyphysa cliftonii Harvey 1858: pl. 11; 1863: pl. 255.

Acetahularia peniculus (R. Brown ex Turner) Solms-Laubach 1895: 27, pl. 2 figs 2, 6, 7. Valet 1968b: 56, pl. 24 figs I, 3–5; 1969: 619, pl. 142 figs 1–3. Womersley 1956: 378.

Thallus (Fig. 101C,D) of numerous clumped axes attached by rhizoids, pale green or whitish from calcification, 2–6 (–10) cm high, with few to numerous whorls of colourless (pale green when young) di- to quadri-chotomous hairs with 5–7 orders of branching, with perforations in the end walls, and a summit whorl of 11–18 green gametangial rays, free from each other and appearing clustered due to crowding. Gametangial rays (Fig. 101C–E) clavate, 2–5 mm long and 0.5–1.0(4.3) mm broad; superior corona (Fig. 102E,F) of a single lobe bearing 1–3 hairs or scars (usually only one mature hair), inferior corona only a slight bulge (Fig. 102E,G); chloroplasts rounded, ovoid or lenticular, variable in size, 2–6 µm long, without pyrenoids.

Reproduction: Reproduction with spherical cysts, (150–) 200–350 µm in diameter (Fig. 101E), producing gametes. Cyst-like structures occasionally present within the stalk.

Type from "Nouvelle-Hollande, sur une venus" (Peron & Lesueur); in PC (7).

Selected specimens: Princess Royal Harbour, King Georges Sound, W. Aust., lower eulittoral (WomersIey, 21.viii.1979; ADU, A51384). Venus Bay, S. Aust., low eulittoral (Womersley, 17.i.1951; ADU, A13656). Kellidie Bay, Coffin Bay, S. Aust., 3–4 m deep (Taylor, 5.xii.1975; ADU, A46701). Salt Creek inlet, Coobowie, S. Aust., 0.5 m deep (Womersley, 9.ii.1969; ADU, A33399-"Marine Algae of southern Australia" No. 28). Head of American R. inlet, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., lower eulittoral (Womersley, 24.i.1948; ADU, A6767). Coorong, S. Aust. about low water level (Womersley, 15.ix.1970, then maintained in culture, ADU, A54173). Swan Bay, Port Phillip, Vic. (Macpherson, 5.iv.1963; ADU, A28197). Boomer, Blackmans Bay, Tas. (Curtis, 30.xi.1965; HO, 58154).

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

Distribution: From Shark Bay, W. Aust. around southern Australia (and Blacknans Bay, Tasmania) to Newcastle, N.S.W., in sheltered bays and inlets, uppermost sublittoral, on dead shells or limestone. New Caledonia (Valet 1968a, p. 54); Lord Howe I. (Kraft & Allender).

Taxonomic notes: P. peniculus has been studied extensively in developmental biology (e.g. see Woodcock 1977), usually under its synonym P. cliftonii. The latter is only an ecological form with more elongate, clavate gametangial rays; this form usually develops in still-water culture.

Uncertainty surrounds the correct name of this alga. Lamarck described it as Polyphysa australis in March 1816, and Lamouroux as Polyphysa aspergillosa in October 1816. Focus peniculus R. Brown ex Turner was described in Volume 4 of Turner's "Fuci", which is dated 1819 but is known to have been issued in fascicles, following Vol. 3 in 1811. Significantly, Lamouroux (Oct. 1816) quotes the page and figure reference of F. peniculus in Turner, so the latter must have been issued distinctly earlier than October 1816. Also, Turner in his "Advertisement" prefacing Vol. 4 apologises for the "frequent irregularities in the appearance of later numbers", and F. peniculus comes almost exactly half way through Vol. 4, the fascicles of which presumably commenced soon after Vol. 3 was completed in 1811. It therefore seems likely that the fascicle containing F. peniculus was issued before 1816, and that this is an earlier name than P. australis of Lamarck (March 1816).


AGARDH, C.A. (1823). Species Algarum, Vol. 1. (Lund.)

BAILEY, G.P., REZAK, R. & COX, E.R. (1976). A revision of generic concepts of living members in the subfamily Acetabularieae (Dasycladaceae, Dasycladales) based on scanning electron microscopy. Phycologia 15, 7–18.

HARVEY, W.H. (1858). Phycologia Australica. Vol. 1, Plates 1–60. (Reeve: London.)

HARVEY, W.H. (1863). Phycologia Australica. Vol. 5, Plates 241–300, synop., pp. 1–73. (Reeve: London.)

LAMARCK, J.B. de (1816). Histoire Naturelle des Animaux sans vertebres. Vol. 2. (Paris.)

LAMOUROUX, J.V.F. (1816). Histoire des polypiers Coralligènes Flexibles. (Poisson: Caen.)

SOLMS-LAUBACH, H. GRAF ZU (1895). Monograph of the Acetabularieae. Trans. Linn, Soc. London (Bot. ser 2) 5, 1–39, Plates 1–4.

TURNER, D. (1819). Fuci sive Plantarum Fucorum Generi a Botanicis Ascriptarum Icones Descriptiones et Historia. Vol. 4, pp. 1–153, Plates 197–258.

VALET, G. (1968a). Algues marines de la Nouvelle-Calédonie I. Chlorophycées. Nova Hedwigia 15, 29–63, Plates 6–15.

VALET, G. (1968b). Contribution a l'étude des Dasycladales 1. Morphogenèse. Nova Hedwigia 16, 21–82, Plates 4–26.

VALET, G. (1969). Contribution a l'étude des Dayscladales 2. Cytologie et reproduction. 3. Révision systématique. Nova Hedwigia 17, 551–644, Plates 133–162.

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.

WOODCOCK, C.L.F. (Ed.) (1977). Progress in Acetabularia research. (Academic Press: New York.)

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 101 C–E, 102 E–G.

Figure 101 image

Figure 101   enlarge

Fig. 101. A. Dasycladus densus (ADU, A19437 type). B. Acetabularia calyculus, living (ADU, A33400 collection). C–E. Polyphysa peniculus. C. Habit (ADU, A46701). D. Cap of young gametangial rays. E. Mature gametangial rays with cysts (D,E from culture).

Figure 102 image

Figure 102   enlarge

Fig. 102. A. Dasycladus densus (ADU, A19437), cross section of thallus; all walls between segments arc perforate. B–D. Acetabularia calyculus (ADU, A33400). B. Sectional view of gametangial ray with superior corona (bearing 2 hairs) and inferior corona. (After Womersley 1971, Fig. 15.) C. Superior corona with hairs, from above. D. Inferior corona, from below. E–G. Polyphysa peniculus (ADU, A54173). E. Sectional view of base of gametangial ray with superior corona (bearing 2 hairs) and slight bulge of inferior corona. F. Superior corona with two hairs, from above. G. Base of gametangial ray, from below. H–K. Lamprothamnium papulosum (ADU, A54177, from culture). H. Habit of thallus. I. Nodal branching with opposite stipulodes and bracts on two lateral branches. J. Starch bulbils on rhizoids, from muddy substrate. K. Part of fertile spike with antheridia on first node of branchlets and oogonia (two only shown) at base of whorl.

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