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Spongites fruticulosus Kützing 1841: 33.

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

Selected citations: Woelkerling 1985: 135, 150, figs 23–32; Woelkerling & Penrose in Woelkerling 1988: 155, 157; Penrose 1991: 438, figs 1–24.


Lithothamnion fruticulosum (Kützing) Foslie 1895: 46.

Melobesia fruticulosa (Kützing) Decaisne 1842a: 126.

Paraspora fruticulosa (Kützing) Heydrich 1900: 315.

Lithothamnion fasciculatum § fruticulosum (Kützing) Hauck 1883: 274.

Goniolithon verrucosum Foslie 1900a: 24.

Thallus encrusting or warty, 0.3–30 mm thick, epilithic and affixed by cell adhesion or growing unattached as rhodoliths. Structure pseudoparenchymatous; organisation dorsiventral; construction monomerous, consisting of a single system of branched filaments that collectively contribute to a ventrally situated core, and a peripheral region where portions of core filaments or their derivatives curve outwards towards the thallus surface, each filament composed of cells 5–16 µm in diameter and 5–35 µm long; a single epithallial cell terminating filaments at the thallus surface, distal walls rounded or flattened but not flared; cells of adjacent filaments joined by cell-fusions, secondary pit-connections absent; trichocytes occurring present at thallus surface, arranged in horizontal fields or singly, not becoming buried within thallus.

Reproduction: Vegetative reproduction unknown. Gametangia, carposporangia and tetrasporangia produced in uniporate conceptacles; bisporangia unknown.

Gametangial plants dioecious; carpogonia and spermatangia produced in separate conceptacles. Carpogonia terminating 3-celled filaments arising from the female conceptacle chamber floor. Mature female-carposporangial conceptacle roofs protruding above or flush with surrounding thallus surface, usually composed of 8–12 cells above the chamber, conceptacle chambers 575–595 µm in diameter and 295–320 µm high. Carposporophytes developing within older female conceptacles after karyogamy, when mature composed of a large central fusion cell and gonimoblast filaments bearing terminal carposporangia, pores not surrounded by coronas of filaments. Spermatangial filaments unbranched, arising from the floor of male conceptacle chambers, mature male conceptacle roofs flush with surrounding thallus surface, composed of 3 or 4 cells, conceptacle chambers 235–335 µm in diameter and 145–245 µm high.

Tetrasporangial conceptacle roofs protruding above or flush with surrounding thallus surface, 8–12 cells thick above the chamber, pore canals lined with protruding cells, conceptacle chambers 350–595 µm in diameter and 275–410 µm high; tetrasporangia peripheral to a central columella, each mature sporangium 65–130 µm in diameter and 85–225 µm long, zonately divided.

Type from the Mediterranean Sea; holotype in L (943, 8–134), illustrated by Woelkerling (1985, figs 23–32) and Penrose (1991, figs 1–3).

Selected specimens: Five Fathom Bank, 6 km W of Garden I., W. Aust., 12–15 m deep (Cambridge, 21.ii.1978; LTB, 11495). Observatory Point, Esperance, W. Aust., 2–3 m deep (Woelkerling, Platt & Jones, 5.ii.1984; LTB, 14173). Nine Mile Reef, 15 km W of Eyre, W. Aust., 2–3 m deep (Woelkerling, Platt & Jones, 1.ii.1984; LTB, 14006). 7 km E of Twilight Cove, Eyre, W. Aust., 0–3 m deep (Woelkerling, Platt & Jones, 2.ii.1984; LTB, 14040, 14081, 14095). Point Fowler (E shore), S. Aust., 2–3 m deep (Woelkerling, Platt & Jones, 14.ii.1984; LTB, 14470). Point Sinclair, S. Aust., 0–2 m deep (Woelkerling, Platt & Jones, 15.ii.1984; LTB, 14495). Point Westall, S. Aust., 2–3 m deep (Platt & Jones, 16.ii.1984; LTB, 14570). Cape Jaffa, S. Aust., 1 m deep (Campbell & Penrose, 18.ii.1987; LTB, 15552). Potato Patch Reef, Anglesea, Vic., 8–9 m deep (Beanland, 31.viii.1982; LTB, 12723). Eagles Nest (E of Cape Patterson), Vic., intertidal pools (Turner, 10.i.1979; LTB, 11546).

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

Distribution: Mediterranean Sea; Red Sea.

In southern Australia, Esperance, W. Aust. to Eagles Nest, Vic.

Taxonomic notes: S. fruticulosus was known only from the type specimen until recently and is now known to occur commonly along the southern Australian coast (Penrose 1991). An examination of the type of Goniolithon verrucosum has shown that it is conspecific with S. fruticulosus. Additional information on the species has been provided by Penrose (1991).


DECAISNE, J. (1842a). Essais sur une classification des Algues et des Polypiers calcifères de Lamouroux. Ann. Sci. Nat., 2 Sér. Bot., 17, 297–380, Plates 14–17.

FOSLIE, M. (1895). The Norwegian forms of Lithothamnion. K. norske Vidensk. Selsk. Skr.1894, 29–208, Plates 1–23.

FOSLIE, M. (1900a). New or critical calcareous algae. K. norske Vidensk. Selsk. Skr. 1899(5), 1–34.

HAUCK, F. (1883). Die Meeresalgen Deutschlands and Osterreichs. Part 5. (E. Kummer: Leipzig.)

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. (1991). Spongites fruticulosus (Corallinaceae, Rhodophyta), the type species of Spongites, in southern Australia. Phycologia 30, 438–448.

WOELKERLING, W.J. (1985). A taxonomic reassessment of Spongites (Corallinaceae, Rhodophyta) based on studies of Kützing's original collections. Br. phycol. J. 20, 123–153.

WOELKERLING, Wm.J. (1988). The Coralline Red Algae. [British Museum (N.H.): London.]

WOELKERLING, W.J. (1991). The status and disposition of Perispermon (Corallinaceae, Rhodophyta). Phycologia 30, 135–144.

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

Author: 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.

Illustration in Womersley Part IIIA, 1996: FIG. 126.

Figure 126 image

Figure 126   enlarge

Fig. 126. Spongites fruticulosus (A, LTB, 14081; B, LTB, 14006; C, LTB, 14095; D, LTB, 14495; E, LTB, 14040). A. Epilithic plants. B. Section of conceptacle with sporangia occurring peripherally in the chamber and a columella centrally, and elongate cells protruding laterally into the pore canal. C. Section of conceptacle with initials bearing spermatangia occurring across the chamber floor.

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