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Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet

Polysiphonia scopulorum Harvey 1855a: 540; 1863, synop.: xx.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Family Rhodomelaceae – Tribe Polysiphonieae

Selected citations: Abbott 1999: 425, fig. 125C–F. Adams 1994: 317. J. Agardh 1863: 940. Beanland & Woelkerling 1982: 98. Cordeiro-Marino & Oliveira 1970: 45, figs 1–9. Cribb 1983: 132, pl. 70 figs 1, 2. De Toni 1903: 1065. Hollenberg 1968a: 79, figs 6F, 30, 31, 33, 36. Huisman & Walker 1990: 440. Huisman et al. 1990: 98. Kendrick et al. 1988: 204; 1990: 52. Kützing 1864: 12, pl. 37a-c. Lewis 1984: 65. Lucas 1909: 45. Millar 1990: 445, fig. 65E–G; 1999: 524. Millar & Kraft 1993: 58. Segi 1959: 262, pl. 13E, F, fig. 3, (excl. Japan specimens). Silva et al. 1996: 545. Sonder 1880: 34. Womersley 1979: 467, fig. 2A–E.


Vertebrata scopulorum (Harvey) Kuntze 1891: 929.

Lophosiphonia scopulorum (Harvey) Womersley 1950: 188. Ardré 1970: 215, pl. 28 fig. 1, pl. 29 figs 1–4. Cribb 1956b: 138, pls 1, 2 figs 8–12. May 1965: 380.

Thallus (Fig. 78A, B) dark red-brown, 5–15 (–40) mm high, usually forming spreading mats on rock platforms just emergent at low tide, sometimes as dense tufts, normally with an extensive and relatively prominent prostrate basal system bearing erect branches, simple or usually with few laterals (occasionally moderately branched). Attachment by rhizoids from prostrate filaments; epilithic, occasionally epiphytic (on Scaberia and Amphibolis). Structure. Prostrate filaments (Fig. 78B) 80–130 µm in diameter with segments L/D 0.5–1.5, attached by scattered rhizoids in open connection with pericentral cells, with actively developing apices and producing adventitious erect branches usually arising several segments from the apices; erect branches 80–120 (–140) µm in diameter with segments L/D 0.5–1.5, often slightly narrower towards their base, bearing a few lateral branches of similar diameter and arising independently of trichoblasts, probably mainly cicatrigenously. Pericentral cells 4, ecorticate (Fig. 78B, C); trichoblasts and scar cells occasional only on lower parts of erect branches, more frequent and sometimes on every segment with a phyllotaxis of 1/4 near well-developed apices; trichoblasts slender, several times furcate. Rhodoplasts discoid, scattered.

Reproduction: Gametophytes dioecious. Carposporophytes with a small basal fusion cell and branched gonimoblast with clavate terminal carposporangia 20–30 µm in diameter. Cystocarps (Fig. 78C) short-stalked, globular to slightly urceolate, 300–400 µm in diameter; pericarp 2 cells thick, outer cells isodiametric, angular. Spermatangial branches (Fig. 78D) developed commonly from both basal branches of a trichoblast and thus appearing paired, sometimes replacing whole trichoblast, 120–200 µm long and 40–50 µm in diameter, without sterile tip cells.

Tetrasporangia (Fig. 78E) forming slightly spiral series in upper laterals, slightly swelling and distorting the lateral (100–200 in diameter), sporangia 50–60 (–70) µm in diameter.

Type from Rottnest I., W. Aust. (Harvey); holotype and isotypes in TCD (Trav. Set 187).

Selected specimens: Point Sinclair, S. Aust., lower eulittoral, shaded (Gordon, 3.xi.1968; AD, A34124). NE end Boston I., Port Lincoln, S. Aust., on Scaberia, 3–4 m deep (Womersley, 28.ii.1959; AD, A22517). Whyalla, S. Aust., in channel (Harbison, 30.v.1994; AD, A63576). Point Riley, S. Aust., on Scaberia, sublittoral (Gill, 24.xi.1974; AD, A46072). Christies Beach, S. Aust., sandy pools (Womersley, 14.x.1968; AD, A32873). Picnic Point, American R. inlet, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., upper sublittoral (Womersley, 30.viii.1950; AD, A15333). Pennington Bay, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., rear (lower) eulittoral (Womersley, 21.xi.1968; AD, A32910 and 27.x.1995; AD, A64610). Cape Lannes, S. Aust., lower eulittoral (Womersley, 22.iv.1990; AD, A60176-"Marine Algae of southern Australia" No. 346). Barwon Heads, Vic., mid eulittoral (Gordon-Mills, 4.xii.1983; AD, A55442).

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

Distribution: Dampier Archipelago, W. Aust. (Huisman & Walker 1990, p. 440), to Barwon Heads, Victoria, N.S.W. and southern Queensland. Variety villum (J. Ag.)Hollenberg is widely recorded from subtropical and temperate countries (NZ, Brazil, Portugal, Indo-Pacific). South Africa.

Taxonomic notes: P. scopulorum occurs mainly on rough-water rock platforms or in relatively calm localities, usually lower eulittoral, occasionally sublittoral on older axes of Scaberia. It is a distinctive species in its typical form, with the strongly developed prostrate system attached by rhizoids in open connection with the pericentral cells, the erect filaments of short segments with few branches, scar cells and trichoblasts rare or occasional on lower branches but present on every segment of well-developed apices, and the spermatangial branches either replacing the whole trichoblast or both basal arms of a trichoblast.

The characteristic lower eulittoral patches of P. scopulorum on rock platforms subject to strong wave action, along most of southern Australia, commonly have many apices removed by animal grazing, but some apices bear abundant trichoblasts. However, only the upper parts of well-grown erect filaments produce trichoblasts from every segment. Some specimens growing only under moderate wave action (e.g. AD, A32873, A64610) reach 25–40 mm in height with fairly numerous upper branches.

Branching of P. scopulorum appears to be largely cicatrigenous with some exogenous apical branching, and branching from prostrate filaments may be endogenous. However it is clear from the studies of Hollenberg (1942b, p. 536; 1968a, p. 56) that this species is best placed in Polysiphonia rather than Lophosiphonia.

Hollenberg (1968a, pp. 83, 85) described two varieties in addition to var. villum (J. Agardh) Hollenberg, from the tropical Pacific. While P. scopulorum may well be a fairly widespread species, varying elsewhere considerably from the southern Australian plants, some records are clearly incorrect [e.g. the Japanese record of Segi (1951, p. 200) is included by Yoshida (1998, p. 1073) under P. yendoi Segi].


ABBOTT, I.A. (1999). Marine Red Algae of the Hawaiian Islands. (Bishop Museum Press: Honolulu, Hawai'i.)

ADAMS, N.M. (1994). Seaweeds of New Zealand. (Cant. Univ. Press: Christchurch.)

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

ARDRÉ, F. (1970). Contribution a l'étude des algues marines du Portugal I-La flore. Port. Acta Biol. Ser. B 10, 1–423, Plates 1–56.

BEANLAND, W.R. & WOELKERLING, W.J. (1982). Studies on Australian mangrove algae: IT. Composition and geographical distribution of communities in Spencer Gulf, South Australia. Proc. R. Soc. Vict. 94, 89–106.

CORDEIRO-MARINO, M. & DE OLIVEIRA FILHO, E.C. (1970). On the occurrence of Polysiphonia scopulorum Harvey on southern Brazil. Rickia 5, 45–50.

CRIBB, A.B. (1956b). Records of marine algae from south-eastern Queensland II. Polysiphonia and Lophosiphonia. Univ. Qld Pap. Dept Bot. 3(16), 131–147.

CRIBB, A.B. (1983). Marine algae of the southern Great Barrier Reef—Part I. Rhodophyta. (Aust. Coral Reef Soc., Handbook 2: Brisbane.)

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

HARVEY, W.H. (1855a). Some account of the marine botany of the colony of Western Australia. Trans. R. Jr. Acad. 22, 525–566.

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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., 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.

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

KENDRICK, G.A., WALKER, D.I. & McCOMB, A.J. (1988). Changes in the distribution of macro-algal epiphytes on stems of the seagrass Amphibolis antarctica along a salinity gradient in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Phycologia 27, 201–208.

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

KUNTZE, O. (1891). Revisio generum Plantarum. Part II. 4. Algae, pp. 877–930. (Leipzig.)

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

MAY, V. (1965). A census and key to the species of Rhodophyceae (red algae) recorded from Australia. Contr. N.S. W. Natl Herb. 3, 349–429.

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.

MILLAR, A.J.K. (1999). Marine benthic algae of Norfolk Island, South Pacific. Aust. Syst. Bot. 12, 479–547.

SEGI, T. (1951). Systematic study of the genus Polysiphonia from Japan and its vicinity. J Fac. Fish., Prefect. Univ. Mie 1, 169–272, Plates 1–16.

SEGI, T. (1959). Further study of Polysiphonia from Japan (I). Rep. Fac. Fish., Prefect. Univ. Mie 3, 257–266, Plates 11–17.

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.)

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

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

YOSHIDA, T. (1998). Marine Algae of Japan. (Uchida Rokakuho Publ. Co.: Tokyo.)

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. 78 A–E.

Figure 78 image

Figure 78   enlarge

Fig. 78. A–E. Polysiphonia scopulorum (A, AD, A32910; B–E, AD, A46072). A. Habit. B. Prostrate axis with erect branches. C. Cystocarps. D. Spermatangial branches. E. Tetrasporangial branch. F–I. Polysiphonia subtilissima (F, AD, A44593; G, H, AD, A42717; I, AD, A36031). F. Habit. G. Cystocarp. H. Spermatangial branches. I. Tetrasporangial branches. (All as in Womersley 1979, courtesy of Aust. J. Bot.)

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