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Electronic Flora of South Australia Species Fact Sheet

Asparagopsis taxiformis (Delile) Trevisan 1845: 45. Børgesen 1919: 352, figs 347–351.

Phylum Rhodophyta – Class Florideophyceae – Order Bonnemaisoniales – Family Bonnemaisoniaceae

Selected citations: Bonin & Hawkes 1987: 586, fig. 16. Chapman 1969: 81, pl. 19. Chihara 1961: 139, figs 11, 13, 14. Dixon 1964: 902; 1965: 67. Huisman & Walker 1990: 398. Levring 1953: 528. Lewis 1984: 5. May 1965: 376. Millar & Kraft 1993: 34.


Fucus taxiformis Delile 1813: 295, pl. 57 fig. 2.

Lictoria taxiformis (Delile) J. Agardh 1841: 23. Hooker & Harvey 1847: 402.

Asparagopsis delilei Montagne 1841: xiv. J. Agardh 1852: 776; 1876: 666. De Toni 1900b: 771. Harvey 1849a: 88, pl. 35. Kützing 1849: 802; 1864: 32, pl. 92. Wilson 1892: 169.

Asparagopsis sanfordiana Harvey 1855a: 544; 1858, pl. 6. J. Agardh 1876: 666. De Toni 1900b: 771; 1924: 367. Lucas & Perrin 1947: 245. Sonder 1881: 30.

Thallus (gametophyte) (Fig. 148A) mid to dark brown-red, fading to grey-red, 10–30 cm high, with long, plumose, main branches covered with densely and irregularly radially branched laterals (Fig. 148B) mostly 1–2 cm long with crowded determinate ramuli 0.5–1 (–1.5) mm long when mature and 35–65 (–90) µm in basal diameter, tapering gradually; spinous branches absent. Attachment by basal stolons and rhizoids; usually epilithic. Structure uniaxial, with development of indeterminate branches and determinate ramuli as in A. armata. Cortex and axial filament also similar but slightly slenderer; axial filament 20–30 µm in diameter with swollen ends 70–90 µm in diameter, inner cortical cells ovoid and 20–30 µm in diameter, outer cortical cells angular and 9–14 µm across. Structure of ramuli as in A. armata, mature half-length cells 20–30 µm across. Rhodoplasts discoid, in chains in inner cells.

Reproduction: Gametangial thalli monoecious, with spermatangial heads nearer the branch apices than the cystocarps. Carposporophyte (Fig. 148D) with a basal fusion cell and much branched gonimoblast filaments bearing terminal clavate carposporangia. Cystocarps (Fig. 148C) borne on stalks 9–11 axial cells long, globular, 1–1.5 mm in diameter, pericarp 3–4 cells thick, ostiolate. Spermatangial heads (Fig. 148E) broadly clavate, 180–280 µm in diameter and 350–650 µm long, with spermatangia cut off as a dense surface layer.

Tetrasporophyte apparently indistinguishable from that of A. armata.

Type from Egypt (Alexandria); holotype(?) in Herb. Lamouroux, CN.

Selected specimens: South Passage, Shark Bay, W. Aust., 5 m deep (Cambridge, 16.viii.1979; AD, A51767). King Head, Rottnest I., W. Aust., 4–6 m deep (Clarke & Engler, 6.ix.1979; AD, A50796). Kangaroo Reef, N end Boston I., Port Lincoln, S. Aust., 5–6 m deep (Womersley, 28.ii.1959; AD, A22558). Tiparra Reef, Spencer Gulf, S. Aust., 5 m deep (Shepherd, 25.v.1973; AD, A43572). Seacliff, S. Aust., 12 m deep (Rowland, 2.ii.1986; AD, A57028). Port Noarlunga, S. Aust., 19 m deep (Branden, 26.iii.1987; AD, A57445). Port Willunga, S. Aust., upper sublittoral pools (Womersley, 23.ii.1955; AD, A19864). Elliot Heads, Qld, drift (McKeon, 12.ix.1948; AD, A9573).

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

Distribution: Tropical/subtropical oceans generally.

Northern Australia to Rottnest I., W. Aust., and southern Qld; Lord Howe I. The Gulf Region of S. Aust.

Taxonomic notes: A. taxiformis is a tropical/subtropical species, occurring on the western and eastern coasts of Australia and also in the Gulf Region of South Australia. Thalli are epilithic and the branches and ramuli slightly slenderer than in A. armata, and are also monoecious. Further studies are needed on the validity of these distinctions.


AGARDH, J.G. (1841). In historiam algarum symbolae. Linnaea 15, 1–50, 443–457.

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

BØRGESEN, F. (1919). The marine algae of the Danish West Indies. Part 3. Rhodophyceae. Dansk Bot. Ark. 3, 305–368.

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.)

CHIHARA, M. (1961). Life cycle of the Bonnemaisoniaceous algae in Japan (1). Sci. Rep. Tokyo Kyoiku Daigaku. Sect. B, 10, 121–153, Plates 1–6.

DE TONI, G.B. (1900b). 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.)

DELILE, A.R. (1813). Fiore d'Égypte. Explanation des Planches. Histoire Naturelle, Vol. 2 [algae, pp. 290–298, Plates 54–58; plates probably in 1826 — see Tax. Lit. p. 617].

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

DIXON, P.S. (1965). Perennation, vegetative propagation and algal life histories, with special reference to Asparagopsis and other Rhodophyta. Bot. Gothoburg. 3, 67–74.

HARVEY, W.H. (1849a). Nereis Australis, pp. 65–124, Plates 26–50. (Reeve: London.)

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. (1858). Phycologia Australica. Vol. 1, Plates 1–60. (Reeve: London.)

HOOKER, J.D. & HARVEY, W.H. (1847). Algae Tasmanicae. Lond. J. Bot. 6, 397–417.

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. (1849). Species Algarum. (Leipzig.)

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.)

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.

MONTAGNE, C. (1841). Plantae cellulares. In Barker-Webb, P. & Bertholot, S., Histoire naturelle des Iles Canaries. Vol. 3, pp. 161–208, 1-xv, Plates 5, 7, 8.

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

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.

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: PLATE 2 fig. 4; FIG. 148.

Plate 2 image

Plate 2   enlarge

figure 1. Rhodymenia obtusa (AD, A64436). Photograph - K.L.Gowlett-Holmes.
figure 2. Gloiocladia polycarpa (AD, A64212). Photograph - G. Edgar.
figure 3. Champia viridis (AD, A63830). Photograph - G. Edgar.
figure 4. Asparagopsis taxiformis (AD, A57028). Photograph - B.C.Rowland.

Figure 148 image

Figure 148   enlarge

Fig. 148. Asparagopsis taxiformis (A, E, AD, A43572; B–D, AD, A19864). A. Habit. B. Branch apex. C. Branch with upper spermatangial organs and two lower cystocarps. D. Carposporophyte with basal fusion cell, gonimoblast filaments and clavate carposporangia. E. Branch with ramuli and a spermatangial organ.

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