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Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet

Asparagopsis armata Harvey 1855a: 544; 1859b: 305; 1862: pl. 192.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Class Florideophyceae – Order Bonnemaisoniales – Family Bonnemaisoniaceae

Selected citations: Adams 1972: 70. Adams et al. 1974: 213. J. Agardh 1876: 666. Bonin & Hawkes 1987: 579, figs 2–15, 17–30. Chapman 1969: 80, fig. 31, pl. 18. De Toni 1900b: 772; 1924: 367. Dixon 1964: 902. Dixon & Irvine 1977: 153, fig. 57. Feldmann & Feldmann 1942: 82, 102, figs 1–6. Guiler 1952: 84. Huisman & Walker 1990: 398. Levring 1953: 528. Lucas 1929a: 20; 1929b: 50. 1933: 133, pl. x. Lucas & Perrin 1947: 244, fig. 107. May 1965: 376. Millar & Kraft 1993: 33. Reinbold 1897: 55; 1899: 47. Sonder 1881: 30. Svedelius 1933: 7, figs 1–42. Tisdall 1898: 512. Wilson 1892: 169. Womersley 1950: 162.


Asparagopsis delilei sensu Harvey 1849: 88, pl. 35 [NON A. delilei Montagne = A. taxiformis (Delile) Trevisan 1845: 45].

Polysiphonia rufolanosa Harvey 1855a: 540. J. Agardh 1863: 939. Kützing 1864: 20, pl. 54f, g.

Falkenbergia rufolanosa (Harvey) Schmitz in Schmitz & Falkenberg 1897: 479. Adams et al. 1974: 213. De Toni 1903: 865. Feldmann & Feldmann 1942: 90, figs 3–6.

Polysiphonia vagabunda Harvey 1859b: 300. J. Agardh 1863: 940. Kützing 1864: 12, pl. 37d, e.

Falkenbergia vagabunda (Harvey) Falkenberg 1901: 690, pl. 21 figs 20–26.
De Toni 1903: 865. Feldmann & Feldmann 1942: 90, 91.

Falkenbergia olens Lucas 1919: 175. De Toni 1924: 389. Feldmann & Feldmann 1942: 90, 91.

Thallus (gametophyte) (Fig. 146A) grey-brown to dark red, 8–25 cm high, with long, plumose, main branches covered with densely and irregularly radially branched laterals mostly 5–10 mm long, with crowded ramuli 1–2 mm long when mature and 50–110 µm in basal diameter, tapering gradually; scattered (sometimes clustered), bare, but retrorsely spinous branches (Fig. 146B) 1–3 cm long, with spirally arranged (divergence 1/4) spines 0.25–1 mm long, also occur. Attachment by the spinous branches, which can develop adhesive pads; epiphytic on various algae and seagrasses. Structure uniaxial (Fig. 146E), each subapical cell with two opposite periaxial cells diverging on about a1/4 spiral, with the larger forming an indeterminate branch or a determinate ramulus, the smaller opposite one often forming a determinate ramulus. Cortex formed from cells cut off laterally from the periaxial cells, becoming continuous within a few axial cells of the apices and on older branches several cells thick, with a space (Fig. 146C, D) between the axial filament and inner cortical cells within which sparse (in young branches) to denser rhizoidal filaments develop; inner cortical cells ovoid to angular, 35–60 µm in diameter, outer cortical cells angular in surface view, 10–25 µm across; axial filament becoming 40–150 µm in diameter, with swollen ends (Fig. 146D). Ramuli developing 5 periaxial cells around each axial cell (three in sectional view), one full length and two pairs of half length, almost cubical, cells each 25–35 µm across; many cells with small gland cells on their inner sides. Rhodoplasts discoid, numerous, in chains in inner cortical cells.

Tetrasporophytes (Fig. 147D) densely tufted, 0.5–2 cm high, much branched with filaments 40–60 µm in diameter, segments 45–85 µm long (LID 1–1.5), with 3 pericentral cells around each axial cell, most pericentral cells cutting off inwardly a small gland cell. Attachment by short multicellular haptera; epilithic or epiphytic.

Reproduction: Gametangial thalli dioecious. Carpogonial branches 3-celled, borne on a supporting cell 9–11 axial cells along a lateral branchlet, with the lower cells of the carpogonial branch producing lateral nutritive cells. Carposporophyte (Fig. 147B) with a basal, dendroid, fusion cell and a densely branched tuft of gonimoblast filaments bearing terminal, clavate to elongate-ovoid, carposporangia 15–25 µm in diameter. Cystocarps (Fig. 147A) often paired near the base of lateral branches, globular, stalked by the lateral branchlet, 1–1.5 mm in diameter, pericarp 3–4 cells thick, ostiolate. Spermatangial heads (Fig. 147C) short stalked, elongate-ovoid, 90–150 µm in diameter and 250–450 µm long, with a cortex of large inner cells and small outer cells producing several elongate spermatangia 1–2 µm in diameter.

Tetrasporangia (Fig. 147D) transformed from pericentral cells, forming an irregular series, shortly ovoid and 25–35 µm in diameter, cruciately divided.

Type from Garden I., W. Aust. (Harvey); lectotype in Herb. Harvey, TCD (Tray. Set 193).

Selected specimens: Yanchep, W. Aust., drift (Kraft 8438 & Herrington, 5.ix.1990; MELU). Point Clune, Rottnest I., W. Aust., 10–15 m deep (C. & M. O'Brien, 2.xii.1980; MELU, Kraft 7133; AD, A63409). Whitfords Beach, W. Aust., 4 m deep (Cook, 20.viii.l979; AD, A50583). Egg I., Isles of St Francis, S. Aust., 32–38 m deep (Shepherd, 11.i.1971; AD, A38041). Hopkins I., S. Aust., 33 m deep (Branden, 8.i.1989; AD, A60002). Barker Rocks, Yorke Pen., S. Aust., lower eulittoral (Womersley, 17.x.1989; AD, A59878 -"Marine Algae of southern Australia" No. 67a). Blanche Harbor, S. Aust., 13 m deep (Branden, 10.ix.1987; AD, A59345). Abalone Cove, West I., S. Aust., 2 m deep (Shepherd, 17.xii.1972; AD, A42923 -"Marine Algae of southern Australia" No. 67). Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., 5–6 m deep (Mitchell, 21.viii.1963; AD, A26960). Robe, S. Aust., sublittoral fringe outer reefs (Womersley, 27.viii.1949; AD, A11083). Double Corner Beach, Portland, Vic., drift (Beauglehole 460, 22.vii.1951; AD, A21731), Point Lonsdale, Vic., drift (Sinkora A1018, 14.xi.1970; AD, A54219). Gabo I., Vic., 13 m deep (Shepherd, 14.ii.1973; AD, A43326). Bombay Rock, Tamar Est., Tas. (Perrin, April 1949; AD, A61891). Great Taylor Bay, Bruny I., Tas., 10 m deep (Shepherd, 7.ii.1970; AD, A35294). Newport, N. Sydney, N.S.W. (Benes, 12.xi.1950; AD, A17187).
Tetrasporophyte (Falkenbergia) phase: Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo I., S. Aust., in shaded high level pool, S side Ellen Point (Womersley, 29.viii.1950; AD, A15465). Flat Rock, Bridgewater Bay, Vic., lower eulittoral (Womersley, 21.viii.1953; AD, A19029). Guyton Point, Robbins I., Tas., on Halopteris, upper sublittoral (Wollaston & Mitchell, 23.ii.1964; AD, A27628). Cloudy Bay, Bruny I., Tas., free-floating (Kraft & Scott, 20.xii.1993; AD, A63412 - "Marine Algae of southern Australia" No. 372).

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

Distribution: Yanchep, W. Aust., around southern Australia and Tasmania to Port Stephens, N.S.W. (Millar & Kraft 1993, p. 33). Northern Australia ?(Lewis 1984, p. 5).

Western Europe (Mediterranean to Ireland); Chile (Santelices & Abbott 1978, p. 218); New Zealand (Chapman 1969, p. 80).

Taxonomic notes: Dixon (1964, p. 902) considered the only difference between A. armata and A. taxiformis is the spinous branches of the former and he questioned their distinctness, as did Dixon & Irvine (1977, p. 153) who recorded only A. armata from the British Isles. Differences in habit, whether monoecious or dioecious, and whether epilithic or epiphytic (see key above), are also useful but require further investigation.

Guiry & Dawes (1992) have studied temperature and daylength control of tetrasporogenesis in the Falkenbergia phase. The Cloudy Bay, Tas., collection was from an extensive free-floating bloom present during several years (C. Sanderson, pers. comm.).

A. armata was first recorded from Europe (Atlantic France) by Sauvageau (1925) and has since spread to other European coasts and the southern and western shores of the British Isles (Dixon & Irvine 1977, p. 153).

Plants from calm water situations have slenderer ramuli than those from rough-water habitats, and the cortex closes between the segments further from the apices.


ADAMS, N.M. (1972). The marine algae of the Wellington area. A list of species. Rec. Dom. Mus. (Wellington) 8(5), 43–98.

ADAMS, N.M., CONWAY, E. & NORRIS, R.E. (1974). The marine algae of Stewart Island. A list of species. Rec. Dom. Mus. (Wellington) 8(14), 185–245.

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

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

BONIN, D.R. & HAWKES, M.W. (1987). Systematics and life histories of New Zealand Bonnemaisoniaceae (Bonnemaisoniales, Rhodophyta): 1. The genus Asparagopsis. N.Z. J. Bot. 25, 577–590.

CHAPMAN, V.J. (1969). The marine algae of New Zealand. Part III: Rhodophyceae. Issue 1: Bangiophycidae and Florideophycidae (Nemalionales, Bonnemaisoniales, Gélidiales), pp. 1–113, Plates 1–38. (Cramer: Germany.)

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

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

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

DIXON, P.S. & IRVINE, L.M. (1977). Seaweeds of the British Isles. Vol. 1, Rhodophyta. Part I, Introduction, Nemaliales, Gigartinales. [British Museum (N.H.): London.]

DIXON, P.S. (1964). Asparagopsis in Europe. Nature 201, 902.

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.)

FELDMANN, J. & FELDMANN, G. (1942). Recherches sur les Bonnemaisoniacées et leur alternance de générations. Ann. Sci. Nat., Sér. 11 Bot. 3, 75–175.

GUILER, E.R. (1952). The marine algae of Tasmania. Check List with localities. Pap. Proc. R. Soc. Tasm. 86, 71–106.

GUIRY, M.D. & DAWES, C.J. (1992). Daylength, temperature and nutrient control of tetrasporogenesis in Asparagopsis armata (Rhodophyta). J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 158, 197–217.

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

HARVEY, W.H. (1859b). Algae. In Hooker, J.D., The Botany of the Antarctic Voyage. HI Flora Tasmaniae. Vol. II, pp. 282–320. (Reeve: London.)

HARVEY, W.H. (1862). Phycologia Australica. Vol. 4, Plates 181–240. (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.

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

LEVRING, T. (1953). The marine algae of Australia. I. Rhodophyta: Goniotrichales, Bangiales and Nemalionales. Arkiv för Bot. Ser. 2, 2, 457–530.

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. (1919). Notes on Australian marine algae, ii. Descriptions of four new species. Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. 44, 174–179, Plate 6.

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.

LUCAS, A.H.S. (1933). An Australian Sea Rover. Vict. Naturalist 50, 133–134.

MAY, V. (1965). A census and key to the species of Rhodophyceae (red algae) recorded from Australia. Contr. N.S.W. natn. 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.

REINBOLD, T. (1897). Die Algen der Lacepede und Guichen Bay und deren näherer Umgebung (Süd Australien), gesammelt von Dr. A. Engelhart-Kingston. Nuova Notarisia 8, 41–62.

REINBOLD, T. (1899). Meeresalgen von Investigator Street (Slid Australien), gesammelt von Miss Nellie Davey (Waltham, Honiton). Hedwigia 38, 39–51.

SANTELICES, B. & ABBOTT, I.A. (1978). New records of marine algae from Chile and their effect on phytogeography. Phycologia 17, 213–222.

SAUVAGEAU, C. (1925). Sur la naturalisation en France d'une Floridéen australasienne (Asparagopsis armata Harv.) et sur ses ioduques. C.R. Acad. Sci. Paris 180, 1887–1891.

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

SONDER, O.W. (1881). In Mueller, F., Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae. Supplementum ad volumen undecinum: Algae Australianae hactenus cognitae, pp. 1–42, 105–107. (Melbourne.)

SVEDELIUS, N. (1933). On the development of Asparagopsis armata Harv. and Bonnemaisonia asparagoides (Woodw.)Ag. Nova Acta Reg. Soc. Sci. Upsal., Ser. IV, 9, 1–61.

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

TREVISAN, V.B.A. (1845). Nomenclator Algarum, ou collection des noms imposees aux plantes de la famille des algues, Vol. 1, 1–80. (Padova.)

WILSON, J.B. (1892). Catalogue of algae collected at or near Port Phillip Heads and Western Port. Proc. R. Soc. Vict. 4, 157–190.

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 IIIB complete list of references.

Author: H.B.S. Womersley

Publication: Womersley, H.B.S. (28 June, 1996)
The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia
Rhodophyta. Part IIIB. Gracilarialse, Rhodymeniales, Corallinales and Bonnemaisoniales
Reproduced with permission from The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia Part IIIB 1996, by H.B.S. Womersley. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra. Copyright Commonwealth of Australia.

Illustrations in Womersley Part IIIA, 1996: FIGS 146, 147.

Figure 146 image

Figure 146   enlarge

Fig. 146. Asparagopsis armata (AD, A59878). A. Habit. B. Spines on spinous branches. C. Transverse section of a main branch showing axial filament in central space. D. Longitudinal section of branch with axial filament in the central space. E. Branch apex with axial filament, groups of cortical cells from periaxial cells, and lateral ramuli each with five periaxial cells (three in section).

Figure 147 image

Figure 147   enlarge

Fig. 147. Asparagopsis armata (A, B, AD, A59878; C, AD, A43326; D, AD, A19029). A. Main branch with a lateral branch bearing two young cystocarps. B. Carposporophyte with basal fusion cell, much branched gonimoblast filaments and terminal carposporangia. C. Spermatangial organs on a lateral branch. D. Falkenbergia stage with tetrasporangia.

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