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Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet

Cladophora prolifera (Roth) Kützing. van den Hoek 1963: 208, figs. 677–682, 686; 1982: 166, figs 318–327.

Phylum Chlorophyta – Order Cladophorales – Family Cladophoraceae


Cl. rugulosa Martens. Womersley 1956: 359.

Thallus (Fig. 62A) dark green, drying dark brown-green, sometimes light brown-green in lower eulittoral plants, forming dense spreading tufts to 15 cm high, with many stipes from a matted rhizoidal holdfast; filaments branched from almost every cell (Fig. 63A). Growth entirely acropetal with lateral branches arising usually from the subapical cell, and with one or commonly two (and then opposite) or occasionally three to five laterals (at acute angles) from each parent cell (Fig. 63A); cross walls at first steeply inclined to parent cell, less so in older parts. Basal and lower cells of stipes and older branches each producing a descending rhizoid which may branch and with annular constrictions; lower thallus cells often with annular constrictions over the lower 0.2–0.5 of their length (Fig. 63B).

Apical cells cylindrical with rounded to slightly tapering tips, (70–) 100–220 µm in diameter, L/B 3–13; ultimate branch cells (70–) 100–220 µm in diameter, L/B 2.5–13; basal stipe cells slightly clavate, 350–420 µm in maximum diameter, L/B 5–22, sometimes tapering into a rhizoid; ratio of basal cell to apical cell diameters 1.5–3 (-5 in plants with narrow apical cells); cell walls relatively thin near apex (3–6 µm), below 10–12 µm thick and 20–30 µm thick near base.

Reproduction: Reproduction (van den Hoek 1963, p. 209) by zoospores only, produced in upper cells following intercalary cell division.

Type from the Mediterranean; lost. Neotype from Trieste, Adriatic Sea, in L, 937,264 ... 23 (see van den Hoek 1963, p. 208).

Selected specimens: Esperance, W. Aust., upper sublittoral pools (Woelkerling, 21.ix.1968; ADU, A33944). Off St Kilda, S. Aust., 5 m deep (Lewis, 4.ix.1972; ADU, A42743). Granite 1., Victor Harbor, S. Aust., drift near causeway (Womersley 16.iv.1976; ADU, A47202). Queenscliff, Vic., sublittoral on Amphibolis (SCUBA divers, 3.ix.1981; ADU, A52665). Koonya Bay, Mornington Pen., Vic., rear reef pool, shaded (Womersley, 15.i.1974; ADU, A44661-"Marine Algae of southern Australia" No. 221).

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

Distribution: Warm temperate Europe, Mediterranean, African and American tropics, Solomon Is, New Zealand.

In southern Australia, from Rottnest I., W. Aust. to Sorrento, Vic., as occasional occurrences in shallow pools on rough-water platforms and in the sublittoral.

Taxonomic notes: Cl. prolifera is a distinctive and widely distributed species, though not known from many localities in southern Australia; where it does occur (e.g. at Sorrento) it may be common. The form, dimensions, descending rhizoids and annular constrictions on lower cells make this an easily recognised species.


VAN DEN HOEK, C. (1963). Revision of the European species of Cladophora. (Brill: Leiden.)

VAN DEN HOEK, C. (1982). A taxonomic revision of the American species of Cladophora (Chlorophyceae) in the North Atlantic Ocean and their geographic distribution. Verh. k. Ned. Akad. Wet. Afd. Natuurkd. Tweede Reeks, Part 78.

WOMERSLEY, H.B.S. (1956). A critical survey of the marine algae of southern Australia. I. Chlorophyta. Aust. J. mar. freshw. Res. 7, 343–383.

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

Author: C. van den Hoek and H.B.S. Womersley.

Publication: Womersley, H.B.S. (31 May, 1984)
The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia
Part I
©Board of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium, Government of South Australia

Illustrations in Womersley Part I, 1984: FIGS 62A, 63A,B.

Figure 62 image

Figure 62   enlarge

Fig. 62. A. Cladophora prolifera (ADU, A52665). B. Cladophora bainesii (ADU, A42650). C. Cladophora feredayi, tufts (ADU, A3269 I ). D. Cladophora feredayi, separated stipes (ADU, A52712).

Figure 63 image

Figure 63   enlarge

Fig. 63. A,B. Cladophora prolifera (ADU, A52665). A. Upper branch system. B. Lower branch system with descending rhizoids and annular constrictions. C. Cladophora bainesii (Type in TCD). Upper branch system. D,E. Cladophora feredayi (D, ADU, A24413; E, ADU, A52627). D. Upper branch system. E. Reproductive cell with basal abscission ring.

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