Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet

Pilayella littoralis (L.) Kjellman. Cardinal 1964: 11, fig. 1.

Phylum Phaeophyta – Order Ectocarpales

Selected citations: Clayton 1974: 798. Hamel 1931: 11, fig. 2. Knight 1923: 343, pls 1–6. Kornmann & Sahling 1977: 105, fig. 53. Kylin 1947: 5, fig. 1A–C. Pedersen 1984: 13. Rosenvinge & Lund 1941: 5. Russell 1964: 322, fig. 1. Womersley 1967: 193.

Thallus (Fig. 6C) medium to dark-brown, 2–20 cm long, much branched (Fig. 7G) irregularly to oppositely, with generally acute branching and branchlets often tending to spiral or unilateral arrangement on upper branches. Epiphytic or occasionally epilithic. Filaments (Fig. 7H) in lower branches 30–50 µm in diameter, cells L/B 0.5–1.0 (–1.5), tapering to 14–20 µm in diameter in branchlets, cells L/B (0.3–) 0.5–1.0 (–1.2) and 6–10 µm in diameter in false hairs. Growth diffuse, often concentrated near the base of branches. Cells (Fig. 7H) with numerous discoid phaeoplasts, each with a pyrenoid, and numerous physodes.

Reproduction: The gametophyte bearing intercalary plurilocular gametangia, surmounted by a filament or false hair of many cells, rarely without such hairs; isogamous or anisogamous; sporophyte with plurilocular neutral sporangia (Fig. 7H) similar to the gametangia, 100–250 µm long and 20–40 µm in diameter, and globular to ovoid unilocular sporangia (Fig. 71,J) borne singly or in a series in a similar intercalary position, (16–) 20–40 (–60) µm in diameter.

Type from Europe.

Selected specimens: Billy Lights Point, Port Lincoln, S. Aust., 2 m deep (Shepherd, 23.viii.1975; ADU, A46552). Off St Kilda, S. Aust., 1.5 m deep (Lewis, 23.viii.1972; ADU, A42709). Kirk Point, Port Phillip, Vic. (Clayton, 30.viii.1971; MELU, 21278, ADU, A43056). Port Arthur, Tas., on boat (Cribb 147.5, 11.vi.1951; ADU, A21042). Stewarts Bay, Port Arthur, Tas., mid eulittoral in shade, with unilocular sporangia ( Womersley, 31.x.1982; ADU, A55783-"Marine Algae of southern Australia" No. 242).

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

Distribution: Widespread in temperate and cooler waters.

From Port Lincoln, S. Aust., to Port Phillip, Vic., and Southport and Port Arthur, Tas. New South Wales (May 1939, p. 197).

Taxonomic notes: P. littoralis is widely distributed in cooler waters of the world and occurs on the cooler parts of the southern Australian coast. Several varieties have been described (see Hamel 1931, p. 13), and Pedersen (1984, p. 13) recognises one as the species P. varia Kjellman. The southern Australian species has virtually no opposite branches (supposedly typical of P. littoralis) but is left in this species pending further studies.

Occasional longitudinal cell divisions have been reported in P. littoralis, and Wilce et al. (1982) have reported a free-living population ascribed to this species but with abundant longitudinal divisions in cells of main branches.


CARDINAL, A. (1964). Étude sur les Ectocarpacees de la Manche. Nova Hedwigia 15, 1–86, Figs. 1–41.

CLAYTON, M.N. (1974). Studies on the development, life history and taxonomy of the Ectocarpales (Phaeophyta) in southern Australia. Aust. J. Bot. 22, 743–813.

HAMEL, G. (1931). Phéophycées de France. Fasc. I, pp. 1–80. (Paris.)

KNIGHT, M. (1923). Studies in the Ectocarpaceae. I. The life-history and cytology of Pylaiella littoralis Kjellm. Trans. R. Soc. Edinburgh 53, 343–360, Plates 1–6.

KORNMANN, P. & SAHLING, P.-H. (1977). Meeresalgen von Helgoland. Benthische Braun und Rotalgen. Helgol. wiss. Meeresunters. 29, 1–292.

KYLIN, H. (1947). Die Phaeophyceen der Schwedischen Westkiiste. Acta Univ. lund. N.F. Avd. 2, 43(4), 1–99, Plates 1–18.

MAY, V. (1939). A key to the marine algae of New South Wales. Part. II. Melanophyceae (Phaeophyceae). Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 64, 191–215.

PEDERSEN, P.M. (1984). Studies on primitive brown algae (Fucophyceae). Opera Bot. 74, 1–76.

ROSENVINGE, L.K. & LUND, S. (1941). The marine algae of Denmark. Vol. II. Phaeophyceae. I. Ectocarpaceae and Acinetosporaceae. K. Dan. Vidensk. Selsk. Biol. Skr. 1(4), 1–79.

RUSSELL, G. (1964). Systematic position of Pilayella littoralis and status of the order Dictyosiphonales. Br. phycol. Bull. 2, 322–326.

WILCE, R.T., SCHNEIDER, C.W., QUINLAN, A.V. & vanden BOSCH, K. (1982). The life history and morphology of free-living Pilayella littoralis (L.) Kjellm. (Ectocarpaceae, Ectocarpales) in Nahant Bay, Massachusetts. Phycologia 21, 336–354.

WOMERSLEY, H.B.S. (1967). A critical survey of the marine algae of southern Australia. II. Phaeophyta. Aust. J. Bot. 15, 189–270.

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

Author: H.B.S. Womersley

Publication: Womersley, H.B.S. (14 December, 1987)
The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia
Part II
©Board of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium, Government of South Australia

Illustrations in Womersley Part II, 1997: FIGS 6C, 7 G–J.

Figure 6 image

Figure 6   enlarge

Fig. 6. A. Zosterocarpus australica (ADU, A38165, holotype). B. Sorocarpus micromorus (MELU 20519; ADU, A39499). C. Pilayella littoralis (ADU, A42709). D. Feldmannia irregularis (A22596). E. Feldmannia paradoxa on Scytosiphon (A31828). F. Feldmannia globifera (A19777).

Figure 7 image

Figure 7   enlarge

Fig. 7. A–D. Zosterocarpus australica (ADU, A38165, holotype). A. Branch system bearing plurilocular sporangia. B. Mature cells with phaeoplasts and centrally aggregated physodes. C. Branchlet with apical cells and plurilocular sporangia, surface view. D. Ditto, median view. E–F. Sorocarpus micromorus (ADU, A39499). E. Branches with son of plurilocular sporangia. F. Cells with phaeoplasts and branch bearing clustered plurilocular sporangia. G–J. Pilayella littoralis (G–I, ADU, A42709; J, ADU, A55783). G. Branching pattern. H. Plurilocular sporangium intercalary on a branchlet. 1. Unilocular sporangia in branchlets. J. Filaments with rows of unilocular sporangia.

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