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Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet

Osmundaria prolifera Lamouroux 1813: 42, pl. 7 figs 4–6.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Family Rhodomelaceae – Tribe Amansieae

Selected citations: Decaisne 1846: 8, and 1848, pl. 3A. De Toni 1903: 1109. De Toni & Forti 1923: 48. Falkenberg 1901: 469, pl. 8 figs 24–26. Huisman 2000: 176. Kylin 1956: 547, fig. 436C. Lucas 1909: 46. Lucas & Perrin 1947: 299, fig. 141. May 1965: 398. Norris 1991: 7, figs 1–6. Reinbold 1899: 48. Saenger 1970: 305, figs 1, 2. Schmitz & Falkenberg 1897: 469, fig. 261C. Shepherd & Womersley 1970: 134; 1971: 166; 1976: 191; 1981: 368. Silva et al. 1996: 532. Womersley 1950: 189.


Polyphacum proliferum (Lamouroux) C. Agardh 1820: 106; 1824: 274. J. Agardh 1863: 1133. Harvey 1847: 17; 1855a: 537; 1859b: 295; 1862a: pl. 188; 1863, synop. xvi. Kützing 1849: 879; 1866: 3, pl. 7g-i, k, 1. Reinbold 1897: 56. Sonder 1845: 54; 1848: 185; 1880: 32.

Vidalia gregaria Falkenberg 1901: 435, pl. 8 figs 22, 23. De Toni 1903: 1108. De Toni & Forti 1923: 47. Lucas 1909: 46. May 1965: 398.

Polyphacum intermedium J. Agardh 1892: 175.

Osmundaria intermedia (J. Agardh) De Toni 1903: 1110. Lucas 1909: 46. May 1965: 398. Silva et al. 1996: 531.

Thallus (Fig. 176A) dark brown-red, 5–25 cm high, cartilaginous, erect, moderately branched especially near the base, usually with long ultimate branches 2–10 cm long, with narrow bases and rounded apices, branches flat, mostly 4–10 mm broad, margins smooth to closely dentate; midrib inconspicuous, lateral veins absent or inconspicuous. Surface of branches covered by a dense felt (Fig. 176C) of short, branched, proliferations (Fig. 176B) 0.5–1 mm long, apart from adventitious branches from lower, heavily corticated, denuded branches which remain mostly bare ("V. gregaria"). Base of branches usually denuded and thickened, 2–3 (–5) mm thick near the base. Holdfast irregularly conical, 5–30 mm high and 5–15 mm broad; epilithic. Structure. Apices of branches broad, with inconspicuous apical cells, forming transverse rows of cells across the branch, with the marginal cells forming short, closely adjacent, dentations 0.5–1.5 mm long and basally 0.5–1.5 mm broad; lateral, alternate, vein system (c.f. Vidalia) absent or inconspicuous. Pericentral cells 5, 2 lateral on each side and one ventral, with a pseudopericentral cell cut off each of the dorsal lateral pericentral cells (Fig. 176B); the medulla 1–2 cells broad, cortex 1–3 cells broad. Surface proliferations (Fig. 176B) multicellular, branched, some with spinous ends. Trichoblasts apparently absent. Smaller cells uninucleate, larger multinucleate; rhodoplasts discoid to elongate, becoming chained.

Reproduction: Procarps borne on short marginal shoots (Fig. 176D) near branch apices, usually several on polysiphonous laterals. Carposporophytes with a prominent basal, branched, fusion cell, branched gonimoblast and clavate terminal carposporangia 30–50 µm in diameter. Cystocarps (Fig. 176E) stalked, ovoid to globular, clustered on marginal outgrowths on upper fronds, 1.5–2 mm in diameter; pericarp with a small ostiole, 5–8 cells thick. Spermatangial organs unknown.

Tetrasporangial stichidia (Fig. 176F) clustered on margins of upper branches, occasionally on the branch surface, 1–3 mm long, compressed, 200–400 1 µm broad, corticated, with 2 tetrasporangia per segment (Fig. 176G).

Type from "Nouv. Holl." (probably W. Aust.); not located in Herb. Lamouroux, CN.

Selected specimens: Red Bluff, Kalbarri, W. Aust., 6–9 m deep (Kraft & Ricker, 15.xii.1980; MELU, 35348; AD, A69220). Point Moore, Geraldton, W. Aust., drift (Womersley, 17.ix.1979; AD, A51172). Israelite Bay, W. Aust., 7 m deep (Kirkman, 18.xii.1981; AD, A56670). Emu Beach, King George Sound, W. Aust., drift (Mitchell, 27.ix.1966; AD, A30815). Eucla, W. Aust., drift (Womersley, 2.ii.1954; AD, A19348). Point Sinclair, S. Aust., upper sublittoral under Posidonia (Womersley, 25.i.1951; AD, A13672). Pearson I., S. Aust., 20–25 m deep (Shepherd, 8.i.1969; AD, A33250). Snapper Point, Port Lincoln, S. Aust., 6–8 m deep (Baldock, 1.i.1964; AD, A27088). Balgowan reef, Yorke Pen., S. Aust., 3–8 m deep (Kald, 17.xii.1967; AD, A32187). Investigator Strait, S. Aust., 19 m deep (Watson, 1 1.i.1971; AD, A39330). Aldinga, S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 13.i.1973; AD, A42957-"Marine Algae of southern Australia" No. 163), and (Womersley, 23.xii.2000; AD, A69012). Victor Harbor, S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 17.x.1948; AD, A9248). Stokes Bay, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., upper sublittoral (Womersley, 15.i.1965; AD, A28939). Pennington Bay, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 27.i.1946; AD, A2928). Stanley Beach, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., drift (Womersley, 6.ii.1957; AD, A20928).

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

Distribution: Kalbarri, W. Aust., to Victor Harbor and Kangaroo I., S. Australia.

Taxonomic notes: While "Vidalia gregaria" appears to be only vegetative adventitious growth on lower corticated branches, most of which lacks the surface felt of proliferations, Osmundaria differs clearly from the type species of Vidalia (V. spiralis) in having the surface proliferations on all mature branches and also in the thallus construction, not having transverse rows of large cells in surface view and in lacking the alternate vein system of Vidalia (see also under Vidalia); reproductive organs are also marginal in Osmundaria but usually on the midrib in Vidalia.

Osmundaria intermedia (J. Agardh) De Toni, type from Champion Bay, W. Aust., in Herb. Agardh, LD, 42899, is a typical specimen of O. prolifera with surface clusters of stichidia.


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AGARDH, J.G. (1892). Analecta Algologica. Acta Univ. lund. 28, 1–182, Plates 1–3.

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.)

DECAISNE, J. (1846). (Atlas 1848) Botanique. In A. Du Petit-Thouars (Ed.). Voyage autour du monde sur la fregate la Venus pendent les anees 1836–1839.34+ 11pp (Paris.)

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.)

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SAENGER, P. (1970). Secondary cortex formation in Osmundaria prolifera (Amansieae: Rhodomelaceae). Helgoländer wiss. Meeresunters. 21, 305–309.

SCHMITZ, F. & FALKENBERG, P. (1897). Rhodomelaceae. In Engler, A. & Prantl, K., Die natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien. T.1. Abt. 2, pp. 421–480. (Englemann: Leipzig.)

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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 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. 176.

Figure 176 image

Figure 176   enlarge

Fig. 176. Osmundaria prolifera (A, AD, A2928; B, C–G, AD, A69012; D, AD, A42957). A. Habit. B. Transverse section of branch showing axial, pericentral and pseudopericentral cells (arrows) and branched proliferations. C. Surface of branch with sponge between the proliferations. D. Short marginal shoots with developing procarps. E. Section of cystocarp. F. Stichidia on branch margin and surface. G. Stichidium with tetrasporangia. [C and F by R.N. Baldock.]

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