Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet

Cirrulicarpus nanus (J. Agardh) Womersley 1973: 256.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Class Florideophyceae – Order Gigartinales – Family Kallymeniaceae


Meredithia nana J. Agardh 1892: 76. De Toni 1897: 308. Lucas 1909: 26. May 1965: 404. Wilson 1892: 182.

Kallymenia nana (J. Agardh) Tisdall 1898: 504.

Cirrulicarpus australis Womersley & Norris 1971: 19, figs 39–43, 90.

Thallus (Fig. 76A) dark red, flattened, irregularly alternately to subdichotomously branched, sometimes proliferous to polychotomous, 5–15 cm high, stipitate at the base; branches with rounded apices, often basally constricted, varying in breadth and broadest either in their mid or apical regions, with a smooth to slightly irregular margin, mostly (0.2–) 0.5–1 cm broad, occasionally with older parts to 3 cm broad; substance firm and somewhat cartilaginous, only slightly adherent to paper on drying. Holdfast discoid, 2–6 (–8) mm across; epilithic. Structure. Thallus (Fig. 77A) 220–450 (–600) µm thick, consisting of 4–6 layers of cortical cells and a moderately dense medulla of filaments 2–6 µm thick; outer cortical cells in surface view 2–5 µm across, compactly arranged and irregularly isodiametric, in sectional view isodiametric; medulla with some lightly staining stellate cells (Fig. 77B).

Reproduction: Sexual thalli dioecious. Carpogonial branch systems (Fig. 77C) arising in the inner cortex, polycarpogonial with 2–5 carpogonial branches; supporting cell elongate and often somewhat dumb-bell shaped or basally swollen, sometimes once lobed, bearing up to 6 elongate and clavate (rarely lobed) subsidiary cells or first cells of the carpogonial branches; second cells of carpogonial branches elongate, carpogonia with prominent, coarse trichogynes. Fusion cell unknown. Auxiliary cell systems (Fig. 77D) apparently similar to carpogonial branch systems but with fewer, smaller and shorter cells and without a carpogonium. Cystocarps large, 1–2 mm in diameter, scattered in groups on the surface of upper branches, hemispherical and ostiolate; carposporophyte consisting of small groups of spherical to ovoid carposporangia (10–15 µm across) interspersed with slender gonimoblast filaments. Male thalli with spermatangia (Fig. 77E) covering the ends of branches, cut off from elongate outer cortical cells, ovoid, 1.5–2 µm in diameter.

Tetrasporangia (Fig. 77F) scattered, cut off from mid cortical cells and lying just below the surface, 25–38 µm long and 10–15 1.1111 in diameter, obliquely divided with intersecting walls.

Type from Port Phillip Heads, Vic. (Wilson, 4/89, 27.i.1883, female); lectotype in Herb. Agardh, LD, 24831, isolectotype in MEL, 1005814.

Selected specimens: Pearson I., S. Aust., 50 m deep (Shepherd, 9.i.1969; AD, A33913). Marion Bay, S. Aust., drift (Kraft, 18.ix.1973; AD, A44537). Aldinga, S. Aust., 2 m deep (Kraft, 16.i.1972; AD, A41232). Port Elliot, S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 26.xi.1961; AD, A25434). 11 km off Cape Northumberland, S. Aust., 48 m deep (Shepherd, 6.v.1975; AD, A46339). Seal Bay, Kangaroo I., S.

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

Distribution: Pearson I., S. Aust. to Port Phillip Heads, Vic.

Taxonomic notes: Aust., drift (Kraft, 6.iv.1972; AD, A42423). Pennington Bay, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., drift (Kraft & Min Thein, 3.xii.1971; AD, A41372).

C. australis Womersley & Norris was placed as a probable synonym of C. nanus by Womersley (1973, p. 256). This was refuted by Hansen (1977, p. 32) who considered that the holotype of Meredithia nana J. Agardh was probably a member of the Gigartinales. However, re-examination of a slide (squash) made from the type shows 4 typically kallymeniaceous carpogonial branch systems, and the synonymy suggested previously can be re-affirmed. The illustration of Hansen (1977, fig. 23) of "gonimoblast development" from a vegetative cell is probably of an auxiliary cell system, with branched subsidiary cells which may be producing young gonimoblast filaments; such branched subsidiary cells are typical of C. nanus.

Female specimens of C. nanus are readily recognised by the large cystocarps, and the tetrasporangia are distinctive in their oblique divisions with intersecting walls, but sterile plants are very similar in form and transverse section to some taxa of the Halymeniaceae; the latter generally have a denser filamentous medulla, in some cases with thick-walled refractive ganglionic cells.


AGARDH, J.G. (1892). Analecta Algologica. Acta Univ. lund. 28, 1–182, Plates 1–3.

DE TONI, G.B. (1897). Sylloge Algarum omnium hucusque Cognitarum. Vol. 4. Florideae. Sect. 1, pp. 1–388. (Padua.)

HANSEN, G.I. (1977). A comparison of the species of Cirrulicarpus (Kallymeniaceae, Rhodophyta). Farlow Herb. Harvard Univ. Occ. Pap. No. 12, 23–34.

LUCAS, A.H.S. (1909). Revised list of the Fucoideae and Florideae of Australia. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 34, 9–60.

MAY, V. (1965). A census and key to the species of Rhodophyceae (red algae) recorded from Australia. Contr. N.S.W. natn. Herb. 3, 349–429.

TISDALL, H.T. (1898). The algae of Victoria. Rep. 7th Meet. Aust. Ass. Adv. Sci., Sydney, 1898, pp. 493–516.

WILSON, J.B. (1892). Catalogue of algae collected at or near Port Phillip Heads and Western Port. Proc. R. Soc. Vict. 4, 157–190.

WOMERSLEY, H.B.S. & NORRIS, R.E. (1971). The morphology and taxonomy of Australian Kallymeniaceae (Rhodophyta). Aust. J. Bot. Suppl. 2, pp. 1–62.

WOMERSLEY, H.B.S. (1973). Further studies on Australian Kallymeniaceae (Rhodophyta). Trans. R. Soc. S. Aust. 97, 253–256.

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

Author: H.B.S. Womersley

Publication: Womersley, H.B.S. (14 January, 1994)
The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia
Rhodophyta. Part IIIA, Bangiophyceae and Florideophyceae (to Gigartinales)
Reproduced with permission from The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia Part IIIA 1994, by H.B.S. Womersley. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra. Copyright Commonwealth of Australia.

Illustrations in Womersley Part IIIA, 1994: FIGS 76A, 77 A–F.

Figure 76 image

Figure 76   enlarge

Fig. 76. A. Cirrulicarpus nanus (AD, A33913). Habit. B. Cirrulicarpus polycoelioides (AD, A41925). Habit. C, D. Hormophora australasica (C, AD, A46592; D, AD, A49150). C. Habit. D. Cross section of a cystocarp. E. Polycoelia laciniata (AD, A19401). Habit. [E as in Womersley & Norris 1971.]

Figure 77 image

Figure 77   enlarge

Fig. 77. A–F. Cirrulicarpus nanus (A–D, MEL, 1OO5814; E, AD, A41232; F, AD, A42423). A. Transverse section of thallus, with a carpogonial branch system. B. Stellate cell. C. Carpogonial branch system with 3 carpogonial branches. D. Auxiliary cell system. E. Transverse section of cortex with spermatangia. F. Transverse section of cortex with obliquely divided telrasporangia. G–L. Cirrulicarpus polycoelioider (AD, A41925). G. Transverse section of cortex with a carpogonial branch system. H. Stellate cell. I. Auxiliary cell system. J–L. Hormophora auslralasica (J, K, from the type; L, AD, A4915O). J. Transverse section of thallus. K. Stellate cell. L. Carpogonial branch system. M–O. Polycoelia laciniaza (M, N, AD, A212O9; O, AD, A19401). M. Transverse section from large central cells to cortex, with tetrasporangia. N. Carpogonial branch system. O. Auxiliary cell system. [A–D, J, K, M after Womersley & Norris 1971.]

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