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Order Bryopsidales

Family Codiaceae

Codium fragile subsp. capense P.C. Silva 1959: 153-157.

Thallus dark green, erect, 10-30 cm tall, dichotomously branched up to 10 x or more, branches terete throughout or slightly flattened near base of thallus, 5-8 (-14) mm in diameter, tapering at apices. Utricles club-shaped, 730-1100 µm long, 130-270 (-355) µm wide, apices characteristically pointed, with a sharp mucro. Hairs or hair-scars common, 1-2 (-3) per utricle, borne short distance below apex. Gametangia lanceolate-ovoid to cylindrical, 275-460 µm long, borne on pedicels in zone near middle of utricle.

Collections, ecology and regional distribution

Orange River to Tsitsikamma (1-32). Found in lower eulittoral zone and rock pools.

World distribution

A southern African endemic, also found in Namibia (but see note). The species C. fragile is found in northern and southern hemisphere temperate seas: many records appear to be recent introductions.

Type locality: Melkbosch, Western Cape (Silva et al. 1996).

Note: recent molecular studies (Provan et al. 2008, Verbruggen et al. 2016, Armitage et al. 2017) raise taxonomic questions about entities within C. fragile.


Codium fragile subsp capense.

Codium fragile subsp capense, herbarium specimen.

Codium fragile subsp capense, detail of utricles with characteristic sharp points (mucros). Re-drawn after Silva (1959).



Armitage, P.R., Nelson, W.A. & Sutherland, J.E. (2017). Mismatch of morphological and molecular identifications in native and invasive subspecies of Codium fragile (Bryopsidophyceae, Chlorophyta). Journal of Phycology 53(1): 218-229.

Provan, J., Booth, D., Todd, N.P., Beatty, G.E. & Maggs C.A. 2008. Tracking biological invasions in space and time: elucidating the invasive history of the green alga Codium fragile using old DNA. Diversity and Distributions 14: 343-354.

Silva, P.C. (1959). The genus Codium (Chlorophyta) in South Africa. Journal of South African Botany 25: 101-165, 22 figs, Plates II-XVI.

Silva, P.C., Basson, P.W. & Moe, R.L. (1996). Catalogue of the benthic marine algae of the Indian Ocean. University of California Publications in Botany 79: 1-1259.

Verbruggen, H., Brookes, M.J.L, & J.F. Costa (2016). DNA barcodes and morphometric data indicate that Codium fragile (Bryopsidales, Chlorophyta) may consist of two species. Phycologia 56 (1): 54-62.


Cite this record as:

Anderson RJ, Stegenga H, Bolton JJ. 2016. Seaweeds of the South African South Coast.
World Wide Web electronic publication, University of Cape Town,; Accessed on 19 April 2024.