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Order Bonnemaisoniales

Family Bonnemaisoniaceae

Asparagopsis armata Harvey 1855: 544

The gametophyte phase of this species has never been recorded in South Africa. Gametophytes of A. armata are similar to those of A. taxiformis. The main difference is that the former species is attached by spines on lateral branches but these are absent in A. taxiformis (see Womersley 1996 for descriptions and illustrations of both species).

The tetrasporophyte of A. armata was formerly known as Falkenbergia rufolanosa (Harvey) Schmitz in Engler and Prantl (see Stegenga et al., 1997). Plants filamentous, red to pinkish-red, forming cottonwool-like tufts up to a few cm in diameter. Thalli attached by multicellular haptera and comprising finely branched filaments: filaments irregularly branched, up to 50 µm in diameter, comprising narrow central cells with three pericentral cells, each with a refractive, globular inclusion; segments about as long as broad. Tetrasporangia one per segment, replacing a pericentral cell, tetrahedrally divided, about 40 µm in diameter.

Collections, ecology and regional distribution

The sporophyte is apparently distributed from the Cape Peninsula (False Bay) to at least Tsitsikamma and probably Port St Johns (Bolton et al., 2011). Epiphytic in the shallow sublittoral and tufts commonly drifting loose on the substratum.


Red, cottonwool-like tufts of the spoprophyte phase of Asparagopsis armata (centre) loosely attached to larger seaweeds, Tsitsikamma.

Sporophyte phase of Asparagopsis armata, previously known as Falkenbergia rufolanosa.

Sporophyte phase of Asparagopsis armata, detail of cells.

Falkenbergia rufolanosa”, the sporophyte phase of Asparagopsis armata. 1. Thallus apex. 2. Attachment structure. 3. Tetrasporangia. Reproduced from Stegenga et al. (1997).


References Asparagopsis armata

Bolton, J.J., Andreakis, N., Anderson, R.J. 2011. Molecular evidence for three separate cryptic introductions of the red seaweed Asparagopsis (Bonnemaisoniales, Rhodophyta) in South Africa. African Journal of Marine Science, 33: 263-271.

Harvey, W.H. (1855). Some account of the marine botany of the colony of Western Australia. Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy 22: 525-566.

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.

Womersley, H. B. S. 1996. The Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia. Rhodophyta. Par IIIB, Gracilariales, Rhodymeniales, Corallinales and Bonnemaisoniales. Flora of Australia Supplementary Series No. 5, 392 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 19 April 2024.