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Drewiana nitella (Harvey) Gordon 1972: 101, figs 35, 60.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Order Ceramiales – Family Ceramiaceae – Tribe Sphondylothamnieae

Selected citations: Huisman 1997: 197. Huisman & Walker 1990: 422.


Wrangelia nitella Harvey 1855a: 546; 1859a: p1. 105; 1863, synop.: xxviii. J. Agardh 1876: 616. De Toni 1897: 127. Lucas 1909: 22. Lucas & Perrin 1947: 135. May 1965: 365. Silva et al. 1996: 408. Sonder 1881: 28. Tisdall 1898: 511. Wilson 1892: 170.

Thallus (Fig. 30A) medium red to dark red-brown, 5–25 cm high, erect axes with distichous, alternate or opposite, branches (Fig. 31A), each axial cell with 4 or 5 whorl-branchlets. Holdfast 2–12 mm across, rhizoidal; epilithic. Structure. Subapical cells bearing 4 or 5 whorl-branchlets (Fig. 31D), overlapping only near branch apices, pinnately to subdichotomously branched 5–8 times, terminal cells acute, 18–24 µm in diameter and L/D 2.5–7; median cells 25–70 µm in diameter and L/D 2–6, basal cells 85–120 µm in diameter and L/D 1.5–2.5; axial cells 400–500 µm in diameter and L/D 4–6 below. Indeterminate branches arise on axial cells in position of whorl-branchlets. Cortication by rhizoids from basal cells of whorl-branchlets. Cells multinucleate; rhodoplasts discoid.

Reproduction: Gametophytes probably dioecious. Female axes 5–6 cells long, formed in position of a whorl-branchlet or a lateral thereof, the subapical cell bearing 3 pericentral cells, with one (the supporting cell) bearing a terminal sterile cell and a lateral carpogonial branch (Fig. 31B); the hypogenous cell is 2–3 times as long as the subapical cell. Post-fertilization 2 small connecting cells are formed each side of the carpogonium, and following fusion with the auxiliary cell the fusion cell produces a cluster of small gonimoblast cells, the lower ones fusing with each other, the auxiliary cell and the supporting cell, and the terminal ones forming clavate carposporangia (Fig. 31C) 20–25 pin in diameter; carposporophyte 240–500 µm across. The apical cell of the fertile axis, the 2 pericentral cells and the sterile cell on the supporting cell divide to form 4 inner involucral groups (Fig. 31C) around the carposporophyte. Spermatangia unknown.

Tetrasporangia (Fig. 31D) are borne terminally or laterally on the adaxial sides of lower cells of whorl-branchlets, 25–50 µm in diameter, tetrahedrally divided.

Lectotype from Rottnest I., W. Aust. (Harvey); in Herb. Harvey, TCD (Tray. Set 213).

Selected specimens: W of Geelvink Channel, Houtman Abrolhos, W. Aust., 60 m deep (Royce 1861, 12.v.1960; PERTH, 2664). W. Aust. (Clifton; AD, A18252). Nuyts Reef, S. Aust., 30 m deep (Shepherd, 27.iii.1980; AD, A52060). Topgallant I., S. Aust., 35 m deep (Branden, 2.vii.1987; AD, A57552). Blanche Harbor, S. Aust., 16 m deep (Reimers, 23.ix.1986; AD, A53721). Point Avoid, Eyre Pen., S. Aust., drift (Gordon-Mills, 2.xii.1975; AD, A46922). Outside Tapley Shoal, S. Aust., 15 m deep (Shepherd, 2.ii.1969; AD, A33177). Off Cape Jervis, S. Aust., 10–12 m deep (Shepherd, 29.xi.1983; AD, A53783). Off Pullen I., Port Elliot, S. Aust., 18 m deep (Shepherd, 22.xii. 1982; AD, A53694). Middleton, S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 14.xi. 1965; AD, A29688). Port Phillip Heads, Vic. (Wilson, March 1894; MEL, 15319). Tasmania (Archer, no data; NSW).

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

Distribution: Houtman Abrolhos, W. Aust. to Port Phillip Heads, Vic., and E Tasmania.

Taxonomic notes: Drewiana nitella is a deep-water species, superficially similar to Sphondylothamnion multifidum but differing in the much slenderer whorl-branchlets with acute but mostly non-spinous terminal cells.


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

DE TONI, G.B. (1897). Sylloge Algarum omnium hucusque Cognitarum. Vol. 4. Florideae. Sect. 1, pp. 1–388. (Padua.)

GORDON, E.M. (1972). Comparative morphology and taxonomy of the Wrangelieae, Sphondylothamnieae and Spermothamnieae (Ceramiaceae, Rhodophyta). Aust. J. Bot. suppl. 4, 1–180.

HARVEY, W.H. (1855a). Some account of the marine botany of the colony of Western Australia. Trans. R. Jr. Acad. 22, 525–566.

HARVEY, W.H. (1859a). Phycologia Australica. Vol. 2, Plates 61–120. (Reeve: London.)

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

HUISMAN, J.M. & WALKER, D.I. (1990). A catalogue of the marine plants of Rottnest Island, Western Australia, with notes on their distribution and biogeography. Kingia 1, 349–459.

HUISMAN, J.M. (1997). Marine Benthic Algae of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. In Wells, F.E. (Ed.) The Marine Flora and Fauna of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia, pp. 177–237. (W. Aust. Museum: Perth.)

LUCAS, A.H.S. & PERRIN, F. (1947). The Seaweeds of South Australia. Part 2. The Red Seaweeds. (Govt Printer: Adelaide.)

LUCAS, A.H.S. (1909). Revised list of the Fucoideae and Florideae of Australia. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 34, 9–60.

MAY, V. (1965). A census and key to the species of Rhodophyceae (red algae) recorded from Australia. Contr. N.S.W. natn. Herb. 3, 349–429.

SILVA, P.C., BASSON, P.W. & MOE, R.L. (1996). Catalogue of the Benthic Marine Algae of the Indian Ocean. (University of California Press: Berkeley, Los Angeles & London.)

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 IIIC complete list of references.

Author: H.B.S. Womersley

Publication: Womersley, H.B.S. (24 December, 1998)
The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia
Rhodophyta. Part IIIC. Ceramiales – Ceramiaceae, Dasyaceae
©State Herbarium of South Australia, Government of South Australia

Illustrations in Womersley Part IIIA, 1998: FIGS 30A, 31 A–D.

Figure 30 image

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Fig. 30. A. Drewiana nitella (AD, A29688). B. Wollastoniella myriophylloides (AD, A35939). C. Wollastoniella mucronata (AD, A18987). D. Shepleya wattsii (AD, A31162). Habit in each case. (A and D as in Gordon 1972, courtesy of Aust. J. Bot.)

Figure 31 image

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Fig. 31. A–D. Drewiana nitella (A, MEL, 15320; B, C, in NSW; D, AD, A29688). A. Part of a prostrate axis bearing lateral branches with curled tips. B. Mature procarp system. C. Mature carposporophyte with involucral branches. D. Branch apex with whorl-branchlets bearing tetrasporangia. E, F. Wollastoniella myriophylloides (E, AD, A31432; F, AD, A30667). E. Habit of plant on Amphibolis. F. Transverse section of axis with 4 whorl-branchlets and 4 young indeterminate branches. (All after Gordon 1972, courtesy of Aust. J. Bot.)

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