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Order Ulvales

Family Ulvaceae

Ulva prolifera O.F.Müller 1778: 7, pl. DCCLXIII: fig. 1

Plants light to grass green, up to 20 (-50) cm high; main axis obvious, narrow tubular below, gradually expanding upwards and tubular or compressed, usually not over 5 mm in diameter, branched to varying degrees. Laterals mainly arising from the proximal region of the main axis, thin, many filiform, others attaining the size of the main axis. Cells in surface view in regular longitudinal rows, angular, 7-15 µm in largest diameter, with a parietal chloroplast located against the outer peripheral wall, usually with one pyrenoid. Thallus membrane (one cell layer) 20-25 µm thick, but as thin as 12 µm in young proliferations. Cells 12-17 µm high, about as high as broad or slightly higher. Rhizoidal cells elongate, up to 25 µm long in surface view (excluding the rhizoidal part), otherwise not much different from normal vegetative cells, the two types in general not mixed.

Description from Stegenga et al. (1997).

Collections, ecology and regional distribution

Recorded along the whole coast of South Africa (1-58). Found in the eulittoral zone and in rock pools up to the supralittoral as well as in lagoons.

World distribution: cosmopolitan (Guiry & Guiry, 2013).

Type locality: Lolland, Denmark (Guiry & Guiry, 2013).

Note: South coast plants appear to be generally smaller than those on the west coast.


Ulva prolifera, herbarium specimens from Kowie Lagoon

Ulva prolifera, stained microscope slide specimen showing fine filiform lateral branches

Ulva prolifera, re-hydrated herbarium specimens from Tsitsikamma showing XS (on left) and surface view (on right)

Ulva prolifera, stained slide specimen showing rows of surface cells

Ulva prolifera. 1, Habit (juvenile). 2, Base of plant. 3, Detail of upper thallus. Reproduced from Stegenga et al. (1997).


References Ulva prolifera

Guiry, M.D. & Guiry, G.M. 2013. AlgaeBase. World-wide electronic publication, National University of Ireland, Galway.; searched on 20 May 2013

Müller, O.F. (1778). Flora danica. Vol. 5, fasc. 13 pp. 8, Plates 721-780. Havniae (Copenhagen).

Stegenga, H., Bolton, J.J. and R. J. Anderson. 1997. Seaweeds of the South African west coast. Contributions from the Bolus Herbarium 18: 655 pp.


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 02 March 2024.