Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet

Pterocladia capillacea (S.G. Gmelin) Bornet in Bornet & Thuret 1876: 57, pl. 20 figs 1–7.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Class Florideophyceae – Order Gelidiales – Family Gelidiaceae

Selected citations: Dixon 1960: 302. Dixon & Irvine 1977b: 134, fig. 50. Feldmann & Hamel 1936: 130, fig. 30, pl. 6 fig. 1. Gepp & Gepp 1906: 251. May 1947: 276; 1949a: 294. Millar 1990: 312, fig. 8C, D. Moore 1945: 336, figs 1–4, pl. 46. Santelices 1977: 80; 1988: 103, fig. 11; 1991: 6, figs 11–18. Stewart 1968: 83.


Fucus capillaceus S.G. Gmelin 1768: 146, pl. 15 fig. 1.

Gelidium corneum sensu Sonder 1848: 174.

Thallus (Fig. 40C) dark red, 4–15 (–20) cm long, cartilaginous, forming densely branched tufts or masses, with few to numerous erect, bi- to tripinnate fronds from an entangled stoloniferous base 2–20 mm across. Axes linear and relatively straight, flat, 600–1000 (–1500) µm broad throughout, apices tapering to spathulate, complanately and distichously branched every 1–2 mm, usually denuded below. Pinnae (1–) 2–5 cm long and 0.6–1 mm broad, compressed. Pinnules subopposite to alternate, 0.5–3 (–5) mm long and 200–400 µm broad, basally constricted. Holdfasts of clumped rhizoids; epilithic. Structure (Fig. 41H). Cortex 3–5 cells thick, outer cells in surface view more or less in rows, ovoid, with the protoplast 2–4 µm across; medulla of elongate cells; rhizines profuse throughout the medulla.

Reproduction: Cystocarps (Fig. 41F) single or possibly compound, more or less centrally positioned in each pinnule, round to elongate-ovate, 200–500 µm across, unilocular, with 1 (–3) ostioles in the raised pericarp; carposporophyte (Fig. 41G) elongate and tufted from a restricted transverse base around the axial cell but several axial cells in length, carposporangia developing in short chains and maturing apically, ovoid, 15–25 µm in diameter. Spermatangial son (not seen) on pinnules, ovate to elongate.

Tetrasporangial son (Fig. 41I) ovate to elongate, 1–2 (–3) mm long, in compressed pinnules with only slight medulla; tetrasporangia (Fig. 41J) of mixed age, derived from cortical cells and lying in the inner cortex, ovoid, irregularly decussately cruciately divided, 25–40 µm in diameter.

Type from the Mediterranean; lost, but lectotypified by the original illustration of Gmelin (1768, pl. 15 fig. 1).

Selected specimens: Cottesloe, W. Aust., drift (Levring, 18.vi.1948; AD, A59057). Point Peron, W. Aust., reef surface (Mitchell, 22.ix.1966; AD, A30750). Point Sinclair, S. Aust., upper sublittoral, shaded (Womersley, 9.ii.1954; AD, A19601). Pearson I., S. Aust., upper sublittoral (Specht, 17.ii.1960; AD, A24517). Edithburg, S. Aust., 1 m deep (Johnson, 31.v.1984; AD, A55529). Cape du Couedic, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., upper sublittoral (Warnersley, 17.i.1950; AD, Al2668). Redbanks, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., upper sublittoral (Womersley, 28.xii.1949; AD, Al2877). Lady Julia Percy I., Vic., 8–12 m deep (Shepherd, 5.i.1968; AD, A32338). Warrnambool, Vic., upper sublittoral (Womersley, 13.iv.1959; AD, A22897). Popes Eye, Port Phillip Heads, Vic., 0–3 m deep (Womersley, 7.iv.1959; AD, A22755). Gabo I., Vic., 3–4 m deep (Shepherd, 19.ii.1973; AD, A43526). Three Hummocks I., Tas., lower eulittoral (Bennett, 17.i.1954; AD, A19691). Bicheno, Tas., upper sublittoral pools (Wollaston & Mitchell, 2.iii.1964; AD, A27866). Green Cape, N.S.W., 16 m deep (Shepherd, 13.ii.1973; AD, A43035). Tamarama, N.S.W., lower eulittoral (Madgwick, 16.iv.1969; AD, A35085). Jumpin Pin, Stradbroke I., Qld (McKeon, 4.i.1949; AD, A16630).

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

Distribution: Widespread in temperate seas, extending into the subtropics.

In Australia, from Cottesloe, W. Aust. (probably from further north) around southern Australia and Tasmania to Stradbroke I., Qld., on coasts of rough to moderate water movement.

Taxonomic notes: Dixon (1960, p. 302) discusses the name of this species, rejecting the suggestion of Papenfuss (1950, p. 192) that P. pinnata (Hudson) Papenfuss is the correct name.

Sterile plants are superficially similar to Gelidium australe, but usually have broader and more compressed axes. Old records by Harvey and Sonder of Gelidium corneum apply to either Pterocladia capillacea (in the west) or Gelidium australe (in the east).

The carposporophyte differs somewhat from that of P. lucida in that it arises along several axial cells, being elongate with tufted gonimoblast filaments; in transverse section of the branch the central axial cell appears with a one-sided tuft of gonimoblasts and a single ostiole, but in longitudinal section the elongate carposporophyte is associated with several axial cells and the pericarp commonly has two, rarely three, ostioles.


BORNET, E. & THURET, G. (1876). Notes algologiques. Fasc. 1. (Masson: Paris.)

DIXON, P.S. & IRVINE, L.M. (1977b). Seaweeds of the British Isles. Vol. 1, Rhodophyta. Part I, Introduction, Nemaliales, Gigartinales. [British Museum (N.H.): London.]

DIXON, P.S. (1960). Taxonomic and nomenclatural notes on the Florideae, II. Bot. Notiser 113, 295–319.

FELDMANN, J. & HAMEL, G. (1936). Floridées de France VII. Gélidiales. Rev. Alg. 9, 85–140, Plates 2–6.

GEPP, A. & GEPP, E.S. (1906). Some marine algae from New South Wales. J. Bot., Lond. 1906, 249–261, Plate 481.

GMELIN, S.G. (1768). Historia Fucorum. (St Petersburg.)

MAY, V. (1947). Studies on Australian marine algae. III. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 71, 273–277, Plate 19.

MAY, V. (1949a). Studies on Australian marine algae. IV. Further geographical records. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 73, 293–297.

MILLAR, A.J.K. (1990). Marine Red Algae of the Coffs Harbour Region, northern New South Wales. Aust. Syst. Bot. 3, 293–593.

MOORE, L.B. (1945). The genus Pterocladia in New Zealand. Trans. R. Soc. N.Z. 74, 332–342, Plates 45–49.

PAPENFUSS, G.F. (1950). Review of the genera of algae described by Stackhouse. Hydrobiologia 2, 181–208.

SANTELICES, B. (1977). A taxonomic review of Hawaiian Gélidiales (Rhodophyta). Pacif. Sci. 31, 61–84.

SANTELICES, B. (1988). Taxonomic studies on Chinese Gélidiales (Rhodophyta). In Abbott, I.A. (Ed.), Taxonomy of Economic Seaweeds. With reference to some Pacific and Caribbean species. Vol. II, pp. 91–107. (Calif. Sea Grant College Program: La Jolla, Calif.)

SANTELICES, B. (1991). Variations in Cystocarp Structure in Pterocladia (Gélidiales: Rhodophyta). Pacific Sci. 45, 1–11.

SONDER, O.W. (1848). Algae. In Lehmann, C., Plantae Preissianae. Vol. 2, pp. 161–195. (Hamburg.)

STEWART, J.G. (1968). Morphological variation in Pterocladia pyramidale. J. Phycol. 4, 76–84.

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

Author: H.B.S. Womersley & M.D. Guiry

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 40C, 41 F–J.

Figure 40 image

Figure 40   enlarge

Fig. 40. A, B. Pterocladia lucida (A, B, AD, A32644). A. Habit. B. Section through cystocarp showing entangled filaments forming a broad base to the carposporophyte, carposporangia and one ostiole. C. Pterocladia capillacea (AD, A22897). Habit. D–F. Pterocladia rectangularis (D, AD, A34231; E, F, AD, A59041). D. Habit. E. Cystocarps with prominent ostioles. F. Carposporophyte with secondary cell row and carposporangia (upper pericarp wall displaced).

Figure 41 image

Figure 41   enlarge

Fig. 41. A–E. Pterocladia lucida (AD, A32644). A. Habit, with tetrasporangial sori. B. Transverse section of thallus. C. Cystocarp with four ostioles. D. Transverse section with elongate spermatangial initials. E. Transverse section of tetrasporangial sorus. F–J. Pterocladia capillacea (AD, A22897). F. Branch with elongate cystocarps, the central one with two ostioles. G. Cross section of cystocarp, with the carposporophyte tufted around the axial cell, elongate cells connecting to the pericarp, and single ostiole. H. Transverse section of thallus. I. Branch with tetrasporangial sori. J. Cross section of tetrasporangial sorus. K. Pterocladia rectangularis (AD, A14009). Branch with tetrasporangial stichidia.

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