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Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet

Herposiphonia versicolor (Hooker & Harvey) Reinbold 1899: 50.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Family Rhodomelaceae – Tribe Herposiphonieae

Selected citations: De Toni 1903: 1056; 1924: 419. De Toni & Forti 1923: 45. Ducker et al. 1977: 87. Falkenberg 1901: 315. Guiler 1952: 106. Lucas 1909: 44; 1929a: 23, 1929b: 51. Lucas & Perrin 1947: 293, fig. 138. Shepherd 1983: 83. Shepherd & Womersley 1971: 166; 1981: 368.


Polysiphonia versicolor Hooker & Harvey 1847: 399. J. Agardh 1863: 922; 1896: 111. Harvey 1847: 48, pl. 16; 1855a: 541; 1859b: 301; 1863, synop.: xxi. Kützing 1849: 805; 1863: 11, pl. 31a-c. Reinbold 1897: 57. Sonder 1853: 701; 1855: 524; 1880: 35. Tate 1882a: 23. Tisdall 1898: 514. Wilson 1892: 167.

Polysiphonia argus Kützing 1864: 17, pl. 48. De Toni 1903: 960. Lucas & Perrin 1947: 275.

Thallus (Fig. 127A) dark red-brown to orange-red, largely erect, tufted and densely branched, 2–12 cm high, basally attached with free, terete, more or less pinnate branches with 3 (rarely 4) simple determinate laterals between each indeterminate branch, more or less spirally arranged. Attachment by rhizoids; epiphytic on various hosts, probably also epilithic. Structure. Apices surrounded by dense curved branches (Fig. 127B); apical cells hemispherical, 10–18 µm in diameter. Pericentral cells (Fig. 127B) 8–10, axes 200–600 µm in diameter, segments L/D 0.4–0.8 (–1), determinate laterals mostly 1–3 mm long, 100–200 µm in diameter, segments L/D 1–1.5 (–2). Trichoblasts profuse on determinate laterals, 1–2 mm long, much branched, lower cells 25–35 µm in diameter, L/D 1–2 (–5), elongate when mature. Rhizoids cut off from pericentral cells, unicellular with digitate haptera. Cells multinucleate; rhodoplasts discoid to elongate, becoming chained.

Reproduction: Gametophytes dioecious. Procarps not observed. Carposporophytes with an inconspicuous fusion cell and short, densely branched, gonimoblast with clavate terminal carposporangia 20–35 µm in diameter. Cystocarps (Fig. 127C) sessile or short-stalked, lateral on determinate laterals, ovoid to slightly urceolate, 300–600 µm in diameter; pericarp ostiolate, 2 cells thick, ecorticate, outer cells rounded. Spermatangial organs (Fig. 127D) replacing trichoblasts, with 1–2 sterile basal cells and a sterile terminal filament 2-several cells long, 35–65 µm in diameter and 150–220 µm long.

Tetrasporangia (Fig. 127E) in straight rows in determinate laterals, single per segment, 60–90 (–120) µm in diameter, with 3 cover cells.

Type from Tasmania (Gunn), probably N coast; lectotype in BM.

Selected specimens: Yanchep, W. Aust., drift (Womersley, 22.ix.1979; AD, A51263). Frenchman Bay, Albany, W. Aust., drift (Parsons, 18.xi.1968; AD, A33230). Pearson Is, S. Aust., 8 m deep (Shepherd, 12.i.1968; AD, A33659). N Spencer Gulf, S. Aust., 10 m deep (Shepherd, 5.ix.1973; AD, A44228). Tiparra Reef, S. Aust., on Amphibolis griffithii, 11 m deep (Shepherd, 13.xii.1971; AD, A41218). Dany Beach, Corny Point, S. Aust., on Amphibolis antarctica, drift (Womersley, 13.x.1989; AD, A59905). Marion Bay, Yorke Pen., S. Aust., on Cystophora monilifera, drift (Womersley, 9.x.1998; AD, A67939). 3 km SE of Troubridge I., S. Aust., 24 m deep (Shepherd, 5.ii.1969; AD, A33894). Brighton, S. Aust., on Amphibolis antarctica, drift (Bienert, 12.xi.1965; AD, A29670). Granite I., Encounter Bay, S. Aust., on Gelidium australe, 7–10 m deep (Edyvane, 8.viii.1982; AD, A60620). Seal Bay, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 29.x.1966; AD, A31087). Strawbridge Point, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 29.x.1995; AD, A64614). Robe, S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 11.xii.1969; AD, A34869). Blackfellows Caves, SE S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 20.xi.1998; AD, A68042). Double Corner Beach, Portland, Vic., drift (Beauglehole, 22.vii.1951; AD, A21571). San Remo, Vic., drift (Sinkora A1917, 5.xii.1974; AD, A49476, MEL, 504898). Low Head, Tas., drift (Perrin, Jan. 1937; AD, A9025). Bridport, Tas., drift (Womersley, 23.x.1986; AD, A57794). White Rock, E of Ninepin Point, SE Tas., 0–5 m deep (Sanderson, 14.xii.1999; AD, A68691).

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

Distribution: Yanchep, W. Aust., to San Remo, Vic., and around Tasmania.

Taxonomic notes: Herposiphonia versicolor is a large species for the genus and rather variable in robustness. More robust plants in particular show the orange-red colour, especially when dead. Relationships with H. rostrata are described under this species.

Polysiphonia argus Kützing is based on a Harvey, Alg. Aust. Exsicc. 197H specimen from Western Port, Vic., holotype in MEL, 45813, isotypes Trav. Set 354, in MEL, 45821 and 1006754; they are robust specimens of H. versicolor.


AGARDH, J.G. (1863). Species Genera et Ordines Algarum. Vol. 2, Part 3, pp. 787–1291. (Gleerup: Lund.)

AGARDH, J.G. (1896). Analecta Algologica. Cont. III. Acta Univ. lund. 32, 1–140, Plate 1.

DE TONI, G.B. & FORTI, A. (1923). Alghe di Australia, Tasmania e Nouva Zelanda. Mem. R. Inst. Veneto Sci., Lett. Arti 29, 1–183, Plates 1–10.

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

DE TONI, G.B. (1924). Sylloge Algarum omnium hucusque Cognitarum. Vol. 6. Florideae. (Padua.)

DUCKER, S.C., FOORD, N.J. & KNOX, R.B. (1977). Biology of Australian Seagrasses: the genus Amphibolis C. Agardh (Cymodoceaceae). Aust. J. Bot. 25, 67–95.

FALKENBERG, P. (1901). Die Rhodomelaceen des Golfes von Neapel und der angrenzenden Meeres-abschnitte. Fauna und Flora des Golfes von Neapel. Monogr. 26. (Friedländer: Berlin.)

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

HARVEY, W.H. (1847). Nereis Australis, pp. 1–69, Plates 1–25. (Reeve: London.)

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. (1859b). Algae. In Hooker, J.D., The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage. III. Flora Tasmaniae. Vol. II, pp. 282–343, Plates 185–196. (Reeve: London.)

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

HOOKER, J.D. & HARVEY, W.H. (1847). Algae Tasmanicae. Lond. J. Bot. 6, 397–417.

KÜTZING, F.T. (1849). Species Algarum. (Leipzig.)

KÜTZING, F.T. (1863). Tabulae Phycologicae. Vol. 13. (Nordhausen.)

KÜTZING, F.T. (1864). Tabulae Phycologicae. Vol. 14. (Nordhausen.)

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. (1929a). The marine algae of Tasmania. Pap. Proc. R. Soc. Tasm. 1928, 6–27.

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

REINBOLD, T. (1897). Die Algen der Lacepede und Guichen Bay und deren náherer Umgebung (Slid Australien), gesammelt von Dr. A. Engelhart-Kingston. Nuova Notarisia 8, 41–62.

REINBOLD, T. (1899). Meeresalgen von Investigator Street (Süd Australien), gesammelt von Miss Nellie Davey (Waltham, Honiton). Hedwigia 38, 39–51.

SHEPHERD, S.A. & WOMERSLEY, H.B.S. (1971). Pearson Island Expedition 1969.-7. The subtidal ecology of benthic algae. Trans. R. Soc. S. Aust. 95(3), 155–167.

SHEPHERD, S.A. & WOMERSLEY, H.B.S. (1981). The algal and seagrass ecology of Waterloo Bay, South Australia. Aquat. Bot. 11, 305–371.

SHEPHERD, S.A. (1983). Benthic communities of upper Spencer Gulf, South Australia. Trans. R. Soc. S. Aust. 107, 69–85.

SONDER, O.W. (1853). Plantae Muellerianae. Algae. Linnaea 25, 657–709.

SONDER, O.W. (1855). Algae annis 1852 et 1853 collectae. Linnaea 26, 506–528.

SONDER, O.W. (1880). In Mueller, F., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae. Supplementum ad volumen undecinum: Algae Australianae hactenus cognitae, pp. 1–42, 105–107. (Melbourne.)

TATE, R. (1882a). 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.

WILSON, J.B. (1892). Catalogue of algae collected at or near Port Phillip Heads and Western Port. Proc. R. Soc. Viet. 4, 157–190.

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

Publication: Womersley, H.B.S. (24 February, 2003)
The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia
Rhodophyta. Part IIID. Ceramiales – Delesseriaceae, Sarcomeniaceae, Rhodomelaceae
Reproduced with permission from The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia Part IIID 2003, by H.B.S. Womersley. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra. Copyright Commonwealth of Australia.

Illustration in Womersley Part IIIA, 2003: FIG. 127.

Figure 127 image

Figure 127   enlarge

Fig. 127. Herposiphonia versicolor (AD, A57794). A. Habit, slender plant. B. Apex of branch with indeterminate and determinate laterals. C. Branches with cystocarps. D. Spermatangial organs on determinate laterals. E. Tetrasporangia in determinate laterals.

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