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Womersleya monanthos (J. Agardh) Papenfuss 1956: 161.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Family Delesseriaceae

Selected citations: Lin & Kraft 1996: 173, figs 1–37. May 1965: 407. Wynne 1996: 182.


Nitophyllum monanthos J. Agardh 1852: 655; 1872: 50; 1876: 466; 1898: 46. De Toni 1900: 637; 1924: 324. Harvey 1863, synop.: xxxii. Kützing 1869: 4, pl. 9d-i. Lucas 1909: 35; 1926: 599, pl. 39 fig. 2. Sonder 1855: 522; 1880: 23. Tisdall 1898: 509.

Chondrophyllum monanthos (J. Agardh) Kylin 1924: 51, fig. 42a-c; 1956: 442, fig. 354A–C.

Thallus (Fig. 32A) medium to dark red, erect to recumbent from prostrate blades, 1–4 cm high, complanately and irregularly laterally branched from the margins, branches (1–) 2–4 (–10) mm broad and 90–140 µm thick, slightly narrower basally and ends rounded; small proliferations frequent near apices otherwise margins smooth. Midrib and veins absent apart from slight lines of cells just below apices (Fig. 32B). Attachment by small discoid haptera from prostrate parts of branches; epiphytic on various algae (e.g. Acrocarpia, Gelidium asperum). Structure. Branch apices (Fig. 32B, C) with a just recognisable obconical apical cell, segmenting to form lateral pericentral cells producing indistinct second-order rows (Fig. 32C), the cells of which divide irregularly to form a broad blade which rapidly becomes corticated with smaller cells on both sides; transverse intercalary divisions frequent in cells of the scarcely recognisable rows. Marginal cells develop also as just recognisable apical cells cutting off cells which contribute to the blade width. Transverse pericentral cells not recognisable as such, blades polystromatic (Fig. 32D) throughout with a central layer of larger more or less isodiametric cells 30–80 µm across with 1–2 cortical layers of smaller dimidiate isodiametric cells 10–20 µm across, extending below (Fig. 32E) to a cortex of anticlinal filaments 5–15 cells long. Mature cells multinucleate; rhodoplasts discoid.

Reproduction: Gametophytes dioecious. Procarps scattered on both sides of blades, with the cortical cells functioning as supporting cells bearing a single sterile group (cells of which divide and enlarge) and 2 carpogonial branches, with adjacent primary cells enlarging and forming a nutritive tissue. Fusion cell with an apical group of elongate sterile conical cells and lateral gonimoblasts; carposporophytes (Fig. 32F) developing a prominent basal fusion cell and much branched filaments with short chains of ovoid carposporangia 30–40 µm in diameter. Cystocarps scattered, few per blade, 1–1.5 mm across, bulging mainly on one surface; pericarp (Fig. 32F) ostiolate, 90–130 µm and 8–10 cells thick, with a thicker collar around the ostiole. Spermatangial sori irregular, on both sides of the blade, with the cortical cells cutting off elongate spermatangia which produce terminal spermatia.

Tetrasporangial sori (Fig. 32G) scattered on blades, with tetrasporangia cut off laterally in 2 layers (Fig. 32H) from cortical cells and covered by a layer of 1 (–2) smaller outer cortical cells; tetrasporangia subspherical, 35–60 µm in diameter.

Type from Port Fairy, Vic.; holotype in Herb. Agardh, LD, 30446 (Harvey, Alg. Aust. Exsicc. 299D).

Selected specimens: Margaret Brock Reef, Cape Jaffa, S. Aust., on Gelidium asperum, 4–5 m deep in caves (R. Lewis, 29.xi.1972; AD, A42928). 1.3 km off Cape Northumberland, S. Aust., 15 m deep (Shepherd, 26.x.1977; AD, A55261). Port MacDonnell, S. Aust., on Acrocarpia, drift (Mitchell, 21.viii.1966; AD, A30677). Gabo I., Vic., 18 m deep (Shepherd, 17.ii.1973; AD, A43502). Fluted Cape, Bruny I., Tas., 23 m deep and on Gelidium asperum, 10 m deep (Shepherd, 12.ii.1972; AD, A41938 and A42027 resp.) See Lin & Kraft (1996, p. 174) for further Victorian localities.

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

Distribution: Margaret Brock Reef, Cape Jaffa, S. Aust., to Gabo I., Vic. and SE Tasmania.

Taxonomic notes: W. monanthos appears to be a deep-water alga, epiphytic on various larger algae on rough-water coasts. It is distinguished by the just-recognisable apical cells, transverse intercalary cell divisions, lack of veins, polystromatic blades, presence of 2 carpogonial branches on each supporting cell, and carposporangia in short chains.


AGARDH, J.G. (1852). Species Genera et Ordines Algarum. Vol. 2, Part 2, pp. 337–720. (Gleerup: Lund.)

AGARDH, J.G. (1872). Bidrag till Florideernes Systematik. Acta Univ. Lund 8, 1–60.

AGARDH, J.G. (1876). Species Genera et Ordines Algarum. Vol. 3, Part 1 - Epicrisis systematis Floridearum, pp. i-vii, 1–724. (Weigel: Leipzig.)

AGARDH, J.G. (1898). Species Genera et Ordines Algarum. Vol. 3, Part 3 - De dispositione Delesseriearum. (Gleerup: Lund.)

DE TONI, G.B. (1900). Sylloge Algarum omnium hucusque Cognitarum. Vol. 4. Florideae. Sect. 2. pp. 387–776. (Padua.)

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

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

KÜTZING, F.T. (1869). Tabulae Phycologicae. Vol. 19. (Nordhausen.)

KYLIN, H. (1924). Studien über die Delesseriaceen. Lunds Univ. Årsskr. N.F. Avd. 2, 20(6), 1–111.

KYLIN, H. (1956). Die Gattungen der Rhodophyceen. (Gleerups: Lund.)

LIN, S.-M. & KRAFT, G.T. (1996). The morphology and taxonomy of Womersleya monanthos, an endemic species and genus of Delesseriaceae (Ceramiales, Rhodophyta) from southeastern Australia. Phycol. Res. 44, 173–183.

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. (1926). Notes on Australian marine algae. III. The Australian species of the genus Nitophyllum. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 51, 594–607, Plates 37–45.

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.

PAPENFUSS, G.F. (1956). On the nomenclature of some Delesseriaceae. Taxon 5, 158–162.

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.)

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

WYNNE, M.J. (1996). A revised key to genera of the red algal family Delesseriaceae. Nova Hedwigia 112, 171–190.

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

Author: H. B. S. Womersley

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. 32.

Figure 32 image

Figure 32   enlarge

Fig. 32. Womersleya monanthos (A, D, G, AD, A42027; B, C, E, AD, A42928; F, AD, A41938; H, AD, A30677). A. Habit, epiphytic. B. Blade apex with very slight lines of cells from apices. C. Apex showing segmentation. D. Transverse section of young blade. E. Transverse section of older blade. F. Section of cystocarp. G. Tetrasporangial sorus. H. Transverse section of tetrasporangial sorus.

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