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Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet

Polysiphonia blandii Harvey 1862a: pl. 184; 1863, synop.: xx.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Family Rhodomelaceae – Tribe Polysiphonieae

Selected citations: J. Agardh 1863: 976. Black 1971: 131. De Toni 1903: 899. De Toni & Forti 1923: 38. Huisman 2000: 177. Huisman & Walker 1990: 439. King et al. 1971: 124. Kützing 1864: 15, pl. 43a-c. Lewis 1984: 63. Lucas 1909: 41; 1929b: 51. Lucas & Perrin 1947: 269, fig. 123. Millar 1990: 441, fig. 64. Millar & Kraft 1993: 57. Reinbold 1898: 51. Segi 1966: 505, pl. 6A. Shepherd & Womersley 1981: 367. Silva et al. 1996: 537. Sonder 1880: 34. Tisdall 1898: 514. Wilson 1892: 167. Womersley 1966: 153; 1979: 486, fig. 7E–H.


Polysiphonia breviarticulata sensu Harvey 1855a: 539; 1859b: 299. [NON C. breviarticulata C. Agardh, from the Adriatic.]

Polysiphonia ferulacea Suhr ex J. Agardh 1863: 980 (Aust. records only). Cribb 1956: 134. De Toni 1903: 892 (Aust. records only). Guiler 1952: 103. Harvey 1863, synop.: xx. Lucas 1909: 41; 1929a: 21; 1929b: 51. Lucas & Perrin 1947: 269. Reinbold 1898: 51. Sonder 1880: 34. [NON P. ferulacea Suhr ex J. Agardh 1863: 980, from Mexico and Florida.]

Thallus (Fig. 83E) very dark red-brown, usually 5–10 cm high, arising from a prostrate basal system, with several erect, subdichotomous axes which become fibrilliferous above, especially when fertile. Attached by rhizoids from prostrate filaments; usually epilithic. Structure. Prostrate filaments 350–700 µm in diameter with segments L/D 0.3–1, with scattered unicellular rhizoids cut off from pericentral cells (1 or often 2 per cell), with most prostrate branches soon becoming erect; erect branches 300–550 µm in diameter with segments L/D (0.3–) 1–2 (–2.5), decreasing very gradually to 120–180 µm in diameter with segments L/D (0.2–) 0.5–1 shortly below the apices, then tapering to a pointed, erect (not involute) apices; upper branchlets often slightly basally constricted; lateral branches arising close to apices, replacing trichoblasts, with occasional cicatrigenous branches. Pericentral cells 4, ecorticate throughout, walls rigid, soon becoming light red-brown in colour and older cells not readily permeable (collapsing in Karo); trichoblasts and scar cells present on every segment, with a divergence of 1/4, trichoblasts prominent, 1–3 times basally furcate with tapering ultimate branches several cells long, light red in colour owing to wall pigment. Rhodoplasts discoid to irregular, scattered.

Reproduction: Gametophytes dioecious. Carposporophytes with a slight basal, fusion cell and short, branched, gonimoblast with clavate terminal carposporangia 25–50 µm in diameter. Cystocarps (Fig. 83F) short-stalked to subsessile, globular to ovoid but not urceolate, 250–500 µm in diameter; pericarp ostiolate, 2 cells thick, outer cells isodiametric, angular. Spermatangial branches (Fig. 83G) developed from one basal dichotomy of a trichoblast, light brown in colour, 200–600 µm long and 60–150 µm in diameter, with (1–) 2–3 short sterile cells at the apex.

Tetrasporangia (Fig. 83H) forming spiral series in upper branchlets (often extending below a lateral), slightly to moderately distorting the branchlet, 50–100 µm in diameter.

Type from Brighton, Port Phillip, Vic. (Harvey, Alg. Aust. Exsicc. 170F); lectotype in Herb. Harvey, TCD; isolectotype in BM.

Selected specimens: Rottnest I., W. Aust. (Harvey, Alg Aust. Exsicc. 185a; TCD and AD, A18286). Elliston, S. Aust., 4 m deep near Salmon Point (Shepherd, 22.x.1970; AD, A37516). Ward I., S. Aust., 25–30 m deep (Shepherd, 31.iii.1982; AD, A53127). Reevesby, I., S. Aust., 10–11 m deep (Baldock, 13.xii.1977; AD, A48950). Ethel Bay, Yorke Pen., S. Aust., rear littoral pools (Womersley, 13.iv.1963; AD, A26342). Wallaroo, S. Aust., 0.5–2.5 m deep on jetty piles (Gill, 9.xi.1980; AD, A51897). Port Noarlunga, S. Aust., 5 m deep on pebbles (Hergstrom & Owen, 19.vii.1970; AD, A35967). Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., 2–6 m deep inside Point Ellen (F. Mitchell, 21.viii.1963; AD, A26952). Pennington Bay, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., on reef surface (Womersley, 23.viii.1950; AD, A15403). Swan Bay, Port Phillip, Vic., 7 m deep (Macpherson, 4.iv.1963; AD, A28853). Crawfish Rock, Westemport Bay, Vic., 4 m deep (Watson, 17.xi.1974; AD, A46236). Walkerville, Vic., drift (Sinkora A1667, 23.ii.1972; AD, A43234). Port Sorell, Tas., drift (Womersley, 9.xi.1982; AD, A56232). Wine Glass Bay, Freycinet Pen., Tas., rock pools (Wollaston & Mitchell, 2.iii.1964; AD, A27897).

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

Distribution: Geraldton, W. Aust. (De Toni & Forti) to Geographe Bay, W. Aust. and Elliston, S. Aust. to Walkerville, Vic.; N and E Tasmania; Kiama, N.S.W. to Noosa and Low I., Qld.

Taxonomic notes: Harvey placed material from Western Port, Vic. [Mg. Aust. Exsicc. 170H, illustrated by Kützing (1864, pl. 43a-c) (now MEL, 1006719)] and from Kiama, N.S.W. (170N) under P. blandii. The latter locality needs verification since 170N in BM appears to be identical material (i.e. from the same collection) with the several specimens of 170F from Brighton, Vic.

Western Australian specimens were first referred by Harvey (1855a, p. 539) to P. breviarticulata C. Agardh from the Mediterranean, a species with slight cortication on lower branches (J. Agardh 1863, p. 1007). Harvey's Australian specimens were 'abundant on the reefs, near low water, Rottnest (188) - the latter number referring to his Travelling Set. Harvey (1859b, p. 299) later recorded it from Tasmania, but apparently did not realise he was describing the same or even a closely related plant when he described P. blandii in 1862. J. Agardh (1863, p. 980) referred Harvey's Australian records of P. breviarticulata to his newly described P. ferulacea, which was apparently based on specimens of Liebmann from Mexico and Harvey from Florida. J. Agardh ascribed the name to Suhr, but without quoting a Suhr specimen. J. Agardh considered the American (and Australian) specimens distinct from P. breviarticulata (C. Agardh) Zanardini from the Adriatic.

Harvey's Trav. Set 188 (also Alg. Aust. Exsicc. 185A, probably of the same collection) appear to be profusely branched and slightly more slender specimens of P. blandii. However, further studies on their variation are needed. Reinbold (1898, p. 51) commented on the close relationships of P. blandii and P. ferulacea as he recorded them from South Australia (see Womersley 1979, p. 487 for further comments on these species).

P. blandii is closely related to P. succulenta Harvey but differs in having somewhat longer segments (in central parts of well developed plants), always straight rather than involute apices, and prostrate basal filaments from which numerous erect filaments arise. P. blandii is entirely ecorticate, whereas the bases of old, erect axes of P. succulenta usually have slight cortication. P. blandii is usually readily distinguished by its very dark red-brown colour, which is largely due to the brown-coloured cell walls, this colouring extending to the trichoblasts. The branching of P. blandii is often more erect than in P. succulenta and the fertile (especially tetrasporangial) branches are more fastigiate or fibrilliferous, with more prominent trichoblasts. These two species also appear to differ consistently in habitat, P. succulenta being an epiphyte on the seagrass Posidonia in calm localities and only rarely on algae, while P. blandii is epilithic (and possibly epiphytic on algae) in stronger water movement.

However, while typical specimens of P. succulenta and P. blandii appear specifically distinct, some herbarium specimens appear intermediate, and some of the above distinctions may be ecological. Further comparisons of well-developed, complete and fertile specimens are desirable, and experimental studies could assist in assessing the distinctions.

Harvey (1862, pl. 284) commented that P. blandii was closely related to the European P. fibrata. The latter appears to be generally a slender, more branched plant and may differ in that the branches are associated with trichoblasts.


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

BLACK, J.H. (1971). Port Phillip Bay Survey Pt. 2. -9. Benthic communities. Mem. Nat. Mus. Vic. No. 32, 129–170.

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.)

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. (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. (1862a). 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.)

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. (2000). Marine Plants of Australia. (Univ. W. Aust. Press, Nedlands, W. Aust. & ABRS, Canberra, A.C.T.)

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

KING, R.J., BLACK, J.H. & DUCKER, S. (1971). Port Phillip Bay Survey 2.8. Intertidal ecology of Port Phillip Bay with systematic lists of plants and animals. Mem. Natn. Mus., Vict. 32, 93–128.

LEWIS, J.A. (1984). Checklist and bibliography of benthic marine macroalgae recorded from northern Australia. I. Rhodophyta. Dept. Defence, Materials Res. Lab., Melbourne, Vic. Report MRL-R-912.

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.

MILLAR, A.J.K. & KRAFT, G.T. (1993). Catalogue of marine and freshwater Red Algae (Rhodophyta) of New South Wales, including Lord Howe Island, South-western Pacific. Aust. Syst. Bot. 6, 1–90.

MILLAR, A.J.K. (1990). Marine Red Algae of the Coffs Harbour Region, northern New South Wales. Aust. Syst. Bot. 3, 293–593.

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

SEGI, T. (1966). The type or authentic specimens of Polysiphonia in Europe. Rep. Fac. Fish., Prefect. Univ. Mie 5, 503–516, Plates 1–25.

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

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

SONDER, O.W. (1880). 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. Viet. 4, 157–190.

WOMERSLEY, H.B.S. (1966). Port Phillip survey, 1957–1963: Algae. Mem. natl. Mus., Vict. No. 27, 133–156.

WOMERSLEY, H.B.S. (1979). Southern Australian species of Polysiphonia Greville (Rhodophyta). Aust. J. Bot. 27, 459–528.

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. 83 E–H.

Figure 83 image

Figure 83   enlarge

Fig. 83. A–D. Polysiphonia succulenta (AD, A32930). A. Habit. B. Cystocarps. C. Spermatangial branches. D. Tetrasporangial branches. E–H. Polysiphonia blandii (E, isotype in BM; F, G, AD, A48950; H, AD, A26342). E. Habit. F. Cystocarps. G. Spermatangial branches. H. Branches with young tetrasporangia. (All as in Womersley 1979, courtesy of Aust. J. Bot.)

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