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Spongites hyperellus (Foslie) Penrose, comb. nov.

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


Lithophyllum hyperellum Foslie 1900a: 27. Womersley 1959: 584; 1981: 227, 229; 1984: 47,48, pl. 9 fig. 2.

Lithophyllum hyperellum f. fastigiata Foslie 1900a: 27. Woelkerling & Campbell 1992: 99.

Lithophyllum hyperellum f. heteroidea Foslie 1900a: 27.

Pseudolithophyllum hyperellum (Foslie) Adey 1970: 13.

Thallus fruticose, epilithic and affixed by cell adhesion, or unattached and free-living as rhodoliths. 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, each filament composed of cells 2–8 µm in diameter and 2–14 µm long; 1–7 epithallial cells terminating most 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 present at thallus surface, occurring singly or in horizontal fields, not becoming buried within thallus.

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

Gametangial plants monoecious; carpogonia and spermatangia produced in separate conceptacles or in the same conceptacle. Carpogonia terminating 3-celled filaments arising from the female conceptacle chamber floor. Mature female-carposporangial conceptacle roofs protruding above the surrounding thallus surface, composed of 3–7 cells above the chamber, conceptacle chambers 136–150 µm in diameter and 109–128 µm high. Carposporophytes developing within older female conceptacles after karyogamy, when mature consisting of a flattened central fusion cell and gonimoblast filaments bearing terminal carposporangia. Spermatangial filaments unbranched, arising from the floor of male conceptacle chambers, conceptacle chambers 109 µm in diameter and 55 µm high.

Tetrasporangial conceptacle roofs protruding above surrounding thallus surface, 3–7 cells thick above the chamber, pore canals lined with protruding cells, conceptacle chambers 141–186 µm in diameter and 136–163 µm high; tetrasporangia scattered across the conceptacle chamber floor, each mature sporangium 20–45 µm in diameter and 45–105 µm long, zonately divided.

Type from Western Port, Vic. (J. Gabriel, 1899); lectotype in TRH, designated by Adey in Adey & Lebednik (1967, p. 19); illustrated by Penrose (1990, fig. 33A–C).

Selected specimens: Three Hummock I., Tas., lower eulittoral (Bennett, 17.i.1954; AD, A19679 = LTB, 13647). Curries River, Tas., upper sublittoral (Cribb, 17.ix.1950; AD, A16319 = LTB, 13691). Bicheno, Tas., lower eulittoral (Womersley, 4.xi.1982; AD, A56460). Clydes I., Eaglehawk Neck, Tas., intertidal (Platt & Woelkerling, 26.ii.1983; LTB, 13258). Safety Cove, Port Arthur, Tas., intertidal (Platt & Woelkerling, 25.ii.1983; LTB, 12805, 12819). Fluted Cape, Bruny I., Tas., uppermost sublittoral (Shepherd, 10.ii.1972; AD, A41765 = LTB, 13650). Sandy Cape, Tas., outer reef (Bennett, 15.i.1954; AD, A43936 = LTB, 13633). Maatsuyker I., Tas., lower eulittoral (Bennett, 26.vi.1954; AD, A19798 = LTB, 13681).

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

Distribution: Known from the type collected in Western Port, Vic., and around Tasmania.

Taxonomic notes: S. hyperellus is often readily distinguished by its external appearance. Womersley (1984, p. 47) considered the species to be a dominant alga in the lower intertidal zone along rocky Tasmanian coasts subject to strong wave action. Additional information on the species has been provided by Penrose (1990).


ADEY, W.H. & LEBEDNIK, P.A. (1967). Catalog of the Foslie Herbarium. (Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskab Museet: Trondheim, Norway.)

ADEY, W.H. (1970). A revision of the Foslie crustose coralline herbarium. K. norske Vidensk. Selsk. Skr. 1970 (1), 1–46.

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

PENROSE, D.L. (1990). Taxonomic studies on Spongites and Neogoniolithon (Corallinaceae, Rhodophyta) in southern Australia. Unpublished PhD Thesis, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia.

WOELKERLING, W.J. & CAMPBELL, S.J. (1992). An account of southern Australian species of Lithophyllum (Corallinaceae, Rhodophyta). Bull. Br. Mus. Nat. Hist., Bot. Ser. 22, 1–107.

WOMERSLEY, H.B.S. (1959). The marine algae of Australia. Bot. Rev. 25, 545–614.

WOMERSLEY, H.B.S. (1984). The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia. Part I. (Govt Printer: Adelaide.)

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.

Illustrations in Womersley Part IIIA, 1996: PLATE 4 fig. 1; FIG. 125.

Plate 4 image

Plate 4   enlarge

figure 1. Spongites hyperellus (AD, 56460). Photograph - H.B.S. Womersley.
figure 2. Corallina officinalis (AD, A64460). Photograph - K.L. Gowlett-Holmes.
figure 3. Metagoniolithon radiatum (AD, A64606). Photograph - K.L. Gowlett-Holmes.
figure 4. Haliptilon roseum (AD, A64605). Photograph - K.L. Gowlett-Holmes.

Figure 125 image

Figure 125   enlarge

Fig. 125. Spongites hyperellus (A, C, LTB, 13258; B, LTB, 12805; D, LTB, 12819). A. Epilithic plants composed of clumps of anastomosed branch-like protuberances. B. SEM of piece of thallus showing parenchymatous structure and regularly aligned filaments connected laterally by cell fusions. C. Section of conceptacle with sporangia occurring peripherally in the chamber and a columella centrally, and elongate cells protruding laterally into the pore canal. D. Section of protuberance showing radial organisation and tetrasporangial conceptacles at thallus surface.

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