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Griffithsia ovalis Harvey 1855a: 559; 1862: pl. 203.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Order Ceramiales – Family Ceramiaceae – Tribe Griffithsieae

Selected citations: J. Agardh 1876: 63. Baldock 1976:527, figs 19–21, 78. De Toni 1903: 1277. Guiler 1952:95. Huisman 1997: 198. Huisman et al. 1990: 96. Kendrick et al. 1990: 51. Lucas 1909: 48. Sonder 1881: 11.

Thallus (Fig. 151E) light red, 3–4 (–6.5) cm high, branching spreading, 3–4 times subdichotomous, ecorticate. Attached by rhizoids from the basal cell; epiphytic on sea grasses or algae. Structure. Apical and subapical cells globose, 0.3–1.4 mm in diameter, cells in mid thallus ovoid, 2.5–3.0 mm in diameter and L/D 1.5–2, at the thallus base clavate, 1.2–1.8 mm in diameter and L/D 2–3; filaments highly constricted between cells, rapidly attenuate-truncate apically (Fig. 153D).

Reproduction: Gametophytes dioecious. Female axes 3-celled, subapical, but displaced laterally by the continued growth of the vegetative axis, flanked by numerous, caducous, hair-like synchronic laterals. Procarp systems subapical, each with a sterile lateral cell and a supporting cell bearing a sterile cell apically and a recurved carpogonial branch of 4 cells laterally; hypogenous cell producing abaxially 8–12, 2-celled synchronic involucral branches, of which the larger, incurved apical cells are 300–390 µm in diameter and L/D 2.5–3; post-fertilisation fusion cell columnar, bearing 1–3 gonimolobes terminally, most cells of which form large, ovoid carposporangia 60–70 µm in diameter. Carposporophytes lateral in the constrictions between cells (Fig. 153D). Spermatangia borne on numerous, minute fascicles from upper shoulders of cells near the thallus apex, clustered in the constrictions between cells; involucre absent.

Tetrasporangia borne on whorls of minute fascicles produced successively on most cells near the thallus apex, tetrahedrally divided. Fascicles innermost in a cluster (Fig. 153M) each consist of an urceolate cell producing successively 3–5 globose tetrasporangia 80–108 (–130) µm in diameter and 3–5, narrow-clavate, 1-celled involucral branches 15–22 µm in diameter and L/D 8–11. Fascicles peripheral to a cluster (Fig. 153N) each produce also a clavate to reniform 1-celled involucral branch 160–250 µm in diameter and L/D 1.5–2, usually after tetrasporangia are shed, forming a composite palisade-like involucre about clusters.

Type from King George Sound, W. Aust. (Harvey); lectotype Harvey, Tray. set no. 41, in TCD.

Selected specimens: Tiparra Reef, S. Aust., on Posidonia, 5m deep (Shepherd 30.ix.1970; AD, A37310 and 24.xi.1970; AD, A37715), and on Amphibolis antarctica, 5m deep (Shepherd 20.viii.1971; AD A39470). Penneshaw, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., on Plocamium cartilagineum, on jetty, 6m deep (Lavers, 8.i.1997; AD, A66875).

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

Distribution: Houtman Abrolhos, W. Aust. (Huisman 1997) to Penneshaw, Kangaroo I., S. Australia.

Taxonomic notes: Records of Dawson (1957, p.119) for the Marshall Islands, Abbott (1946, p. 439) for Hawaii, Adams et al. (1974, p.230) for Stewart I., New Zealand, and Jaasund (1976, p. 115; 1977, p. 407) for Tanzania are doubtful, and apparently refer to plants similar to G. schousboei Montagne or G. metcalfii Tseng.

G. ovalis belongs reproductively to the G. monilis complex and approximates G. grandis in cell size (Fig. 153D, F), but is characteristically epiphytic in relatively shallow bays. Plants are pale red in colour, small, with few, spreading branches, very large ovoid cells in the mid thallus, and moniliform filaments narrowing rapidly to small, globose, apical cells. Narrow-clavate sterile cells produced by tetrasporangial fascicles (noted by Harvey 1862, pl. 203) are unique to this species. Tetrasporangia, at least in Spencer Gulf specimens, are very large, about twice the dimensions of other members of the G. monilis complex.


ABBOTT, I.A. (1946). The genus Griffithsia (Rhodophyceae) in Hawaii. Farlowia 2(4), 439–453.

ADAMS, N.M., CONWAY, E. & NORRIS, R.E. (1974). The marine algae of Stewart Island. A list of species. Rec. Dom. Mus. (Wellington) 8(14), 185–245.

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

BALDOCK, R.N. (1976). The Griffithsieae group of the Ceramiaceae (Rhodophyta) and its southern Australian representatives. Aust. J. Bot. 24, 509–593.

DAWSON, E.Y. (1957). An annotated list of marine algae from Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands. Pacif. Sci. 11, 92–132.

DE TONI, G.B. (1903). Sylloge Algarum omnium hucusque Cognitarum. Vol. 4. Florideae. Sect. 3, pp. 775–1521 + 1523–1525. (Padua.)

GUILER, E.R. (1952). The marine algae of Tasmania. Checklist with localities. Pap. Proc. R. Soc. Tasmania 86, 71–106.

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. (1862). Phycologia Australica. Vol. 4, Plates 181–240. (Reeve: London.)

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.)

HUISMAN, J.M., KENDRICK, G.A., WALKER, D.I. & COUTÉ, A. (1990). The Marine Algae of Shark Bay, Western Australia. Research in Shark Bay. Report of the France-Australe Bicentenary Expedition Committee, pp. 89–100.

JAASUND, E. (1976). Intertidal Seaweeds in Tanzania. (Univ. Troms0.)

JAASUND, E. (1977) Marine algae in Tanzania VI. Bot. Mar. 20, 405–414.

KENDRICK, G.A., HUISMAN, J.M. & WALKER, D.I. (1990). Benthic macroalgae of Shark Bay, Western Australia. Bot. Mar 33, 47–54.

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

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

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

Author: R. N. Baldock

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 151E, 153D, M, N.

Figure 151 image

Figure 151   enlarge

Fig. 151. A, B. Griffithsia teges (A, AD, A27858; B, AD, A 11042). A. Male plant. B. Sterile plant. C. Griffithsia pulvinata (Type, AD, A26365). D. Griffithsia pilalyea (Type, AD, A39552). E. Griffithsia ovalis (AD, A37310). Habit of each. (All as in Baldock 1976, courtesy of Aust. J. Bot.)

Figure 153 image

Figure 153   enlarge

Fig. 153. A–F. Griffithsia monilis complex: comparison of morphologies. A. Griffithsia pulvinata (AD, A26363). B. Griffithsia pilalyea (Type, AD, A39552). Upper thallus parts bearing carposporophytes. C. Griffithsia crassiuscula (AD, A26686). D. Griffithsia ovalis (AD, A3731.0). E. Griffithsia monilis (AD, A27837). F. Griffithsia grandis (AD, A63928). G–J. Griffithsia pilalyea (Type, AD, A39552). G. Female fertile axis in a medial position. H. Young spermatangial fascicle. I. Portion of a mature spermatangial fascicle. J. Young tetrasporangial fascicles. K–L. Griffithsia crassiuscula (K, AD, A26686; L, AD, A27013). K. Carposporophyte, Type A. L. Dissected carposporophyte, Type B, viewed from slightly above. M, N. Griffithsia ovalis (AD, A37310). M. Tetrasporangial fascicle. N. Old peripheral tetrasporangial fascicle. (A–E, G–N, as in Baldock 1976, courtesy of Aust. J. Bot.; F by Baldock.)

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