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Gloiocladia polycarpa (Harvey) Womersley, comb. nov.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Class Florideophyceae – Order Rhodymeniales – Family Rhodymeniaceae


Horea polycarpa Harvey 1859b: 329, pl. 194B; 1863, synop.: xlv. J. Agardh 1876: 293. Reinbold 1897: 53(?). Sonder 1881: 17. Tisdall 1898: 505. Wilson 1892: 180.

Thallus (Fig. 38A, B) medium red to red-brown, 8–20 cm high, complanately branched with flat, subdichotomous, main branches 5–10 (–15) mm broad below, tapering to 1–2 mm broad just below apices, with numerous marginal [0.5–2 (–3) cm long] and sometimes surface proliferations(1–5 mm long) from lower and mid branches, less so in cystocarpic plants. Holdfast small, discoid; epilithic or epiphytic. Structure multiaxial, developing a cortex (Fig. 38F) 50–90 (–120) µm thick, of anticlinal branched chains of 5–8 cells, inner ones elongate, outer ones ovoid, 2–4 µm in diameter, and a medulla 1–3 cells across, cells ovoid, (50–) 100–200 (–300) µm in diameter, with few to several filaments lying between the medullary cells. Rhodoplasts discoid.

Reproduction: Gametangial thalli dioecious. Carpogonial branches not observed; auxiliary cell branches (Fig. 38C) 2-celled, borne on inner cortical supporting cells, the auxiliary cell with a large globular proteinaceous inclusion and the first cell establishing broad pit-connections (Fig. 38D) to adjacent cells. Carposporophytes (Fig. 38E) ovoid, 180–400 µm across, with all cells forming ovoid carposporangia 20–30 µm in diameter; basal nutritive tissue present with persistent erect filaments (Fig. 38E) and small-celled filaments surrounding the ostiole. Cystocarps mostly on or near the branch margins, 700–1000 µm across with 2–4 well-developed horns, ostiolate. Spermatangia cut off from outer cortical cells, ovoid, 1–2 µm in diameter.

Tetrasporangia (Fig. 38F) scattered or in extensive nemathecia on the thallus branches (few on the proliferations), borne on mid cortical cells, ovoid, 15–25 µm in diameter, decussately divided.

Type from East coast, Tas. (Gunn); lectotype (cystocarpic) (here designated), Alg. Aust. Exsicc. 4381, in Herb. Harvey, TCD (isotypes distributed in Alg. Aust. Exsicc. 438).

Selected specimens: Port Fairy, Vic. (Harvey, Alg. Aust. Exsicc. 438D; Herb. Harvey, TCD). Port Phillip Heads, Vic., (Harvey, Alg. Aust. Exsicc. 438E; Herb. Harvey, TCD). Western Port, Vic., (Harvey, Alg. Aust. Exsicc. 438H; Herb. Harvey, TCD). Sisters Caves, Rocky Cape, Tas., 5 m deep (Edgar, 23.v.1992; AD, A63785). Waubs Bay, Bicheno, Tas., 8–12 m deep, on Lenormandia (Edgar, 23.x.1994; AD, A63783). Crayfish Point, Taroona, Tas., 0–6 m deep (Sanderson, 29.v.1992; A61753). Taroona, Tas., 3–4 m deep (Edgar, 4.ii.1995; AD, A64212). Middleton, Tas. (Perrin, Nov. 1940; AD, A8949). Roaring Beach, Dover, Tas., drift (Perrin, 7.ix.1945; HO, 309250). Southport, Tas., drift (Cribb 77.2, 23.ix.1950; AD, A16255). Adventure Bay, Bruny I., Tas., drift (Perrin, 8.xi.1940; HO, 309249).

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

Distribution: Port Fairy to Western Port, Vic., (probably from Point Avoid, S. Aust., eastwards); N and E Tasmania.

Taxonomic notes: Herb. Harvey, TCD, contains:

1. Two specimens from "East coast, VDL R. Gunn. 4381", one cystocarpic and one tetrasporangial with relatively few, scattered, tetrasporangia, marginal proliferations but few surface proliferations and these only near the base of the specimen.

2. Four specimens from Port Philip Heads (Vic.), 438E, two cystocarpic, one tetrasporangial (abundant) and with numerous surface proliferations (tetrasporangia in thallus surface, not in proliferations) and one male.

3. One sheet (cystocarpic) from Western Port (Vic.) — 438H.

4. One sheet (cystocarpic) from Port Fairy (Vic.) — 438D.

Since Harvey cited "East coast, Gunn" in his publication on the Algae of Tasmania, the cystocarpic specimen is selected as lectotype and the tetrasporangial one as an isolectotype. The Victorian specimens are regarded as syntypes, and Harvey's illustrations (at least of the tetrasporangial plant) may be based on these specimens.

Some literature references (e.g. Kylin 1931, p. 7) give G. polycarpa as a synonym of G. australis, but the two species are clearly distinct. G. polycarpa differs from G. australis in having basically subdichotomous branching in contrast to the pinnate form of the latter and in lacking the rounded adhesive discs; it is epilithic or epiphytic whereas G. australis is usually epiphytic on seagrasses. While some specimens of G. polycarpa have numerous small surface proliferations, the tetrasporangia are not borne in these but in the cortex of the branches where they form extensive sori or nemathecia.

Gloiocladia polycarpa occurs in Tasmania and Victoria. Specimens from Point Avoid, S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 2.xii.1975; AD, A46909) and Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 15.i.1948; AD, A6878 and 2.i.1949; AD, A10619) are now provisionally referred to this species (Womersley 1950, p. 174, as G. australis) since they show basically subdichotomous branching with small proliferations from both the surface and margins. Reinbold (1897, p. 53) and Lucas (1929b, p. 49), recorded G. polycarpa (as Horea) from Lacepede and Guichen Bays, S. Aust., but gave G. australis as a synonym; this record may apply to the latter species.


AGARDH, J.G. (1876). Species Genera et Ordines Algarum. Vol. 3, Part 1 — Epicrisis systematis Floridearum, pp. i-vii, 1–724. (Weigel: Leipzig.)

HARVEY, W.H. (1859b). Algae. In Hooker, J.D., The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage. HI Flora Tasmaniae. Vol. II, pp. 282–320. (Reeve: London.)

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

KYLIN, H. (1931). Die Florideenordnung Rhodyméniales. Lunds Univ. Årsskr. N.F. Avd. 2, 27 (11), 1–48, Plates 1–20.

LUCAS, A.H.S. (1929b). A census of the marine algae of South Australia. Trans. R. Soc. S. Aust. 53, 45–53.

REINBOLD, T. (1897). Die Algen der Lacepede und Guichen Bay und deren näherer Umgebung (Süd Australien), gesammelt von Dr. A. Engelhart-Kingston. Nuova Notarisia 8, 41–62.

SONDER, O.W. (1881). In Mueller, F., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae. Supplementum ad volumen undecinum: Algae Australianae hactenus cognitae, pp. 1–42, 105–107. (Melbourne.)

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.

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

Author: H.B.S. Womersley

Publication: Womersley, H.B.S. (28 June, 1996)
The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia
Rhodophyta. Part IIIB. Gracilarialse, Rhodymeniales, Corallinales and Bonnemaisoniales
Reproduced with permission from The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia Part IIIB 1996, by H.B.S. Womersley. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra. Copyright Commonwealth of Australia.

Illustrations in Womersley Part IIIA, 1996: PLATE 2 fig. 2; FIG. 38.

Plate 2 image

Plate 2   enlarge

figure 1. Rhodymenia obtusa (AD, A64436). Photograph - K.L.Gowlett-Holmes.
figure 2. Gloiocladia polycarpa (AD, A64212). Photograph - G. Edgar.
figure 3. Champia viridis (AD, A63830). Photograph - G. Edgar.
figure 4. Asparagopsis taxiformis (AD, A57028). Photograph - B.C.Rowland.

Figure 38 image

Figure 38   enlarge

Fig. 38. Gloiocladia polycarpa (A, AD, A63785; B–F, AD, A61753). A, B. Habit, tetrasporangial plant on left. C. Section of branch with a 2-celled auxiliary cell branch on supporting cell; auxiliary cell with a proteinaceous globule. D. Young carposporophyte, with basal supporting cell, first cell of auxiliary cell branch with broad lateral pit-connections, and the auxiliary cell subdividing. E. Section of cystocarp with carposporophyte, basal nutritive tissue and prominent erect filaments. F. Longitudinal section of branch with tetrasporangia.

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