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Order Gigartinales

Family Caulacanthaceae

Heringia mirabilis (C. Agardh) J. Agardh 1842: 68

Plants erect, bushy, up to 30 cm tall, dark red. Often associated with sponges. Holdfast crustose to discoid, with many erect axes; axes terete to slightly compressed, cartilaginous and wiry, 250 -500 µm in diameter. Main axis indistinct, dichotomies regular, profuse terminal branches. Structure uniaxial; in cross-section central filament distinct, surrounded by parenchymatous medulla of largish cells (12-20 µm diameter), and cortex of small-celled radial filaments imparting almost striate appearance. Epidermal cells 4-8 µm in diameter. Tetrasporangia in raised nemathecia near branch tips, zonately divided and about 30-40 µm long. Cystocarps just below thallus apices, globose, with laterally-displaced ostiole.

Collections, ecology and regional distribution

Recorded from Namibia and around almost the whole coast of South Africa, to near Cape Vidal, KZN. (1-56). Found in the sublittoral fringe and subtidally. On the west coast H. mirabilis is usually epiphytic on Cladophora mirabilis, but on the south and east coasts it is either attached to one of a variety of seaweeds and animals (especially sponges) or is epilithic.

World distribution : southern African endemic.

Type locality: “Cape of Good Hope”, South Africa (Silva at al. 1996).

Note: A detailed description of morphology and development in H. mirabilis is given by Searles (1968).


Heringia mirabilis, De Hoop. Whitish strands of bacterial filaments seen on this specimen.

Heringia mirabilis, detail of branches under dissecting microscope.

Heringia mirabilis, Three Sisters (BOL).

Heringia mirabilis, Kowie (BOL), showing branching pattern.

Heringia mirabilis, habit. Reproduced from Stegenga et al. (1997).


References Heringia mirabilis

Agardh, J. G. 1842. Algae maris Mediterranei et Adriatici, observations in diagnosin specierum et dispositionem generum. Paris, 164 pp.

Searles, RB. 1968. Morphological studies of red algae of the order Gigartinales. University of California Publications in Botany 43: 100 pp.

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.

Stegenga, H., Bolton, J.J. & 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 26 February 2024.