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Order Gelidiales

Family Gelidiaceae

Ptilophora pinnatifida J. Agardh 1885: 79-80

Fronds erect, red, up to 35 cm tall, complanate, with up to 5 orders of pinnate branches; thallus often partly to nearly completely covered by encrusting sponge; holdfast fibrous; proximal axis terete becoming flattened distally; midrib distinct except in ultimate and penultimate pinnae; distal pinnae 2-5 mm apart and up to 5 mm wide; mature ultimate pinnae curved, linear to cuneate; ultimate branch-ends somtimes shaped like oak leaves. Vegetative anatomy 4-layered; outer cortex of small pigmented cells, inner cortex of larger cells, medulla of thick-walled filaments; outer and inner cortical layers separated by layer of rhizines. Tetrasporangia and bilocular cystocarps in sori borne on narrow branchlets on apices or margins of ultimate pinnae; cystocarpic branchlets (ligules) may be up to 2 cm long.

Collections, ecology and regional distribution

Recorded from Algoa Bay to just south of Durban (36-50) (Tronchin 2003). Collected from sandy reefs at 30-40 m depth in southern Kwazulu-Natal, this species has otherwise only been found in beach-cast.

World distribution: South African endemic.

Type locality: Algoa Bay, South Africa (Tronchin 2003).

Note: this species is described and illustrated in detail by Norris (1992). Associations between Ptilophora species and encrusting sponges were investigated by Tronchin et al (2006), and P. pinnatifida recorded as one of the species that often forms these associations.


Ptilophora pinnatifida, Port Alfred (BOL).

Ptilophora pinnatifida, frond detai.

Ptilophora pinnatifida, frond detail: note fertile marginal branchlets.


References Ptilophora pinnatifida

Agardh, J. G. 1885. Till algernes systematic, Nya bidrag. (Fjerde afdelingen). Lunds Universitets Ǻrsskrift, Afdelingen for Mathematik och Naturvetenskap 21 (8): 1-117, 1 plate.

Norris RE 1992. The marine red algae of Natal, South Africa: Order Gelidiales (Rhodophyta). Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa 61: 43 pages.

Tronchin, E.M. 2003. The systematics, biology and distribution of the Gelidiaceae (Rhodophyta) of South Africa and related taxa. Ph D thesis, Department of Botany, University of Cape Town, 214 + xv pp.

Tronchin, E.M., Samaai, T., Anderson, R.J. and J.J. Bolton 2006. Sponge-seaweed associations in species of Ptilophora (Gelidiaceae, Rhodophyta). Phycological Research 54: 140-148.


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.