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Electronic Flora of South Australia Genus Fact Sheet

Genus SPONGITES Kützing, 1841: 30

Phylum Rhodophyta – Class Florideophyceae – Order Corallinales – Family Corallinaceae – Subfamily Mastophoroideae


Melobesia Lamouroux sect. Spongites (Kützing) Decaisne 1842b: 126.

Paraspora Heydrich 1900: 315, a later homonym of Paraspora Grove 1884: 196.

Thallus encrusting, warty, lumpy, fruticose, epilithic or epizoic and affixed by cell adhesion, or unattached and free-living as rhodoliths; genicula absent. Structure pseudoparenchymatous; organisation dorsiventral in crustose portions and radial in protuberant branches; construction monomerous, consisting of a single system of branched filaments that collectively contribute to a ventrally or centrally situated core, and a peripheral region where portions of core filaments or their derivatives curve outwards towards the thallus surface; cells of adjacent filaments joined by cell-fusions, secondary pit-connections absent; 1–7 epithallial cells terminating most filaments at the thallus surface, distal walls rounded or flattened but not flared; trichocytes present or absent, if present appearing, in section, arranged in horizontal fields, horizontal rows, vertical rows, or occurring singly at the thallus surface, sometimes becoming buried within the thallus.

Reproduction: Vegetative reproduction, where known, by thallus fragmentation. Gametangia, carposporangia, tetrasporangia and bisporangia borne in uniporate conceptacles; gametangia and carposporangia usually formed on separate plants from tetrasporangia and bisporangia.

Gametangial plants monoecious or dioecious; carpogonia and spermatangia produced in separate conceptacles. Carpogonia terminating 3-celled filaments arising from the female conceptacle chamber floor. Carposporophytes developing within female conceptacles after karyogamy, consisting of a large central fusion cell and gonimoblast filaments bearing terminal carposporangia. Spermatangial filaments unbranched, formed on the chamber floor only.

Tetrasporangia and bisporangia formed across the chamber floor or peripheral to a central columella, conceptacle roofs formed by filaments either surrounding sporangial initials or surrounding and interspersed amongst sporangial initials, pores either surrounded by a corona of filaments or lacking one, each mature sporangium lacking an apical plug, zonately divided.

Type species: Spongites fruticulosus Kützing 1841: 33.

Taxonomic notes: Spongites has been distinguished from Pneophyllum by the mode of tetrasporangial conceptacle roof development (Penrose & Woelkerling 1992b). Recent data (Penrose, unpubl.) have shown that this character may be unreliable in distinguishing the two genera, and further studies are needed to evaluate this.


DECAISNE, J. (1842b). Mémoire sur les Corallines ou Polypiers calcifères. Ann. Sci. Nat., 2 Sér. Bot., 18, 96–128. ,

GROVE, W.B. (1884). New or noteworthy fungi. J. Bot., Lond. 22, 129–136, 195–201.

HEYDRICH, F. (1900). Weitere Ausbau des Corallineensystems. Ber. dt. bot. Ges. 18, 310–317.

KÜTZING, F.T. (1841). Über die ‘Polypieres Calciferes’ des Lamouroux. (F. Thiele: Nordhausen.)

PENROSE, D. & WOELKERLING, Wm.J. (1992b). A reassessment of Pneophyllum (Corallinaceae, Rhodophyta) and its relationships to Spongites. Phycologia 30, 495–506.

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

Author: W.J. Woelkerling (with some genera by D.L. Penrose)

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.


1. Thallus composed of a cluster of branch-like protuberances; 2–7 layers of epithallial cells present at the thallus surface

S. hyperellus

1. Thallus crustose, with a more or less flattened dorsal surface or with wart-like protuberances; a single layer of epithallial cells present at the thallus surface


2. Tetrasporangial conceptacles >450 µm in diameter and >240 µm high

S. fruticulosus

2. Tetrasporangial conceptacles <250 µm in diameter and <200 µm high


3. Tetrasporangial conceptacles with pores surrounded by coronas of filaments; tetrasporangia occurring across the chamber floor

S. tunicatus

3. Tetrasporangial conceptacles with pores lacking coronas of filaments; tetrasporangia occurring peripherally in the chamber and a columella occurring centrally

S. yendoi

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