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Shepleya wattsii (Harvey) Gordon 1972: 71, figs 22–24,57.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Order Ceramiales – Family Ceramiaceae – Tribe Sphondylothamnieae


Wrangelia wattsii Harvey 1862: pl. 233; 1863, synop.: xxviii. J. Agardh 1876: 620. De Toni 1897: 131. Lucas 1909: 23; 1929b: 48. Lucas & Perrin 1947: 138, fig. 12. May 1965: 366. Mazza 1906: No. 41. Reinbold 1898: 40. Sonder 1881: 29. Tate 1882: 21. Tisdall 1898: 511. Womersley 1950: 181.

Thallus (Fig. 30D) medium to dark red-brown, 10–25 cm high, with numerous spreading subdistichous branches from every second to fifth axial cell of the main axes, branched for 3 or 4 orders; base of axes often prostrate. Holdfast 2–5 mm across, of entwined rhizoids with lateral haptera; epilithic. Structure. Subapical cells bearing 2 (–3) whorl-branchlets (Fig. 34A), first in opposite distichous pairs, with axial cells increasing in size to 200–500 pin in diameter and 1–1.5 mm long near the base; mature whorl-branchlets spreading, slightly incurved, branches only slightly tapering with rounded ends of terminal cells, median cells 180–300 µm in diameter and L/D 2–3; lower cells of whorl-branchlets with 2–4 simple laterals, upper cells with 1 or 2, orientated above and below the plane of branching and obscuring the distichous arrangement. Indeterminate branches arise in position of whorl-branchlets on axial cells. Cortication of the lower thallus is by rhizoids from the basal cells of whorl-branchlets, adhering by haptera from their proximal ends. Cells multinucleate; rhodoplasts discoid.

Reproduction: Gametophytes dioecious, occasionally with mixed phase thalli. Female axes 4–6 (–8) cells long, the last 3 cells relatively short (Fig. 34B); subapical cell with 3 pericentral cells, the adaxial one sterile, one fertile (and forming an auxiliary cell) and the third (supporting cell) forming a terminal sterile cell and a lateral carpogonial branch (Fig. 34B); the hypogenous cell produces no laterals but the larger subhypogenous cell bears 3 outer involucral branches at an early stage. The fertilized carpogonium connects to both auxiliary cells via connecting cells and the furcate fusion cell (Fig. 34C) cuts off small gonimoblast cells with the carposporophyte 560–1200 µm across, bearing terminal clavate carposporangia 30–70 µm in diameter; the sterile cells of the procarp divide to form 3 inner involucral branchlets surrounding the gonimoblast. Spermatangial heads (Fig. 34D, E) are subspherical, 80–110 µm in diameter, borne laterally and terminally on small lateral branch systems on the whorl-branchlets.

Tetrasporangia (Fig. 34F) are sessile on the adaxial sides of cells of small, curved, branched laterals on cells of the whorl-branchlets, 100–150 µm in diameter, tetrahedrally divided.

Type from Warrnambool, Vic. (Watts); holotype in Herb. Harvey, TCD.

Selected specimens: Port Elliot, S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 10.viii.1957; AD, A21122). West Bay, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 6.i.1946; AD, A3237). Robe, S. Aust., drift (Gordon, 18.v.1964; AD, A27904 – "Marine Algae of southern Australia" No. 106) and (Baldock, 15.v.1967; AD, A31422) and (Womersley, 15.iv.1994; AD, A63555). Stinky Bay, Nora Creina, S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 19.viii.1957; AD, A21262) and (Gordon, 26.i.1967; AD, A31162). 1.3 km off Cape Northumberland, S. Aust., 15 m deep (Turnbull, 30.ix.1975; AD, A46610). Port MacDonnell, S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 19.viii.1953; AD, A18986). Shelly Beach, Bridgewater Bay, Vic., drift (Beauglehole, 14.viii.1951; AD, A21534). Point Lonsdale, Vic. (Lucas, Jan. 1923; NSW). Lady Bay, Southport, Tas., drift (Wollaston & Mitchell, 27.ii.1964; AD, A27535).

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

Distribution: West Bay, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., to Port Phillip Heads, Vic., and SE Tasmania.

Taxonomic notes: Shepleya wattsii is a deep-water alga on eastern South Australian and western Victorian coasts, often common in the drift. It is distinguished by relatively long branches with a fringe of crowded whorl-branchlets of fairly even length.


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

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

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.

LUCAS, A.H.S. (1929b). A census of the marine algae of South Australia. Trans. R. Soc. S. Aust. 53, 45–53.

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.

MAZZA, A. (1906). Saggio di Algologia Oceanica. Nuova Notarisia 17, Nos. 32–100.

REINBOLD, T. (1898). Die Algen der Lacepede und Guichen Bay (Slid Australien) und deren näherer Umgebung, gesammelt von Dr. A. Engelhart-Kingston. II. Nuova Notarisia 9, 33–54.

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

TATE, R. (1882). A list of the charas, mosses, liverworts, lichens, fungs, and algals of extratropical South Australia. Trans. R. Soc. S. Aust. 4, 5–24.

TISDALL, H.T. (1898). The algae of Victoria. Rep. 7th Meet. Aust. Ass. Adv. Sci., Sydney, 1898, pp. 493–516.

WOMERSLEY, H.B.S. (1950). The marine algae of Kangaroo Island. III. List of Species 1. Trans. R. Soc. S. Aust. 73, 137–197.

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 30D, 34.

Figure 30 image

Figure 30   enlarge

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 34 image

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Fig. 34. Shepleya wattsii (A, B, D, F, AD, A27904; C, AD, A21262; E, AD, A31422). A. Indeterminate apex with whorl-branchlets. B. Apex with mature procarp. C. Fusion cell with 2 arms and immature carposporangia. D. Longitudinal section of a spermatangial head. E. Thallus with procarps and spermatangial heads. F. Small tetrasporangial branches on cells of whorl-branchlets. (All as in Gordon 1972, courtesy of Aust. J. Bot.)

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