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Order Ceramiales

Family Wrangeliaceae

Shepleya elixithamnia Gordon-Mills & R.E. Norris 1986: 160-166, figs. 1-15, table 1

Plants soft and delicate, red, up to about 4 cm long, ecorticate, largely prostrate, only the thallus apices free for some distance. Axes usually with two opposite branches per cell arising subapically, and one or two unicellular haptera arising somewhat above a proximal position. Branches are usually re-branched once or may develop to the same complexity as the main axes. Apical cells ca. 100 µm in diameter in the main axes, ca. 75 µm in the side branches. Main axial cells up to 500 µm long and 200 µm broad, without cortication. Tetrasporangia ca. 150 µm in diameter, sessile on cells of somewhat richer-branched laterals. Other reproductive structures not seen (but see De Clerck et al. 2005).

Collections, ecology and regional disrtibution

Our own collections are only from Mkambathi and Mzamba in eastern Transkei. This species is reported (De Clerck et al. 2005) to be otherwise limited to southern KwaZulu-Natal. Gordon-Mills and Norris (1986) report its distribution as “the Indian Ocean coast of South Africa from northern Natal to near East London”, but the most southern and northern records indicate a range from Mkambathi to Mvoti river in KZN (47-52) . Locally it is not rare, and is found as an epiphyte on various articulated calcified algae (e.g. Amphiroa bowerbankii, Halimeda cuneata).

World distribution: South African endemic.

Type locality: Palm Beach, near Port Edward, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. (Silva et al. 1996).


Shepleya elixithamnia, growing on Amphiroa bowerbankii (Photo O. De Clerck).

Shepleya elixithamnia, thallus apex. Arrow shows young attachment structure. Mkambathi, stained slide.

Shepleya elixithamnia, thallus apex. Mkambathi, stained slide.

Shepleya elixithamnia, tetrasporangia. Mkambathi, stained slide.


References Shepleya elixithamnia

De Clerck, O, Tronchin, E. M., Schils, T. 2005. Red algae. In: De Clerck, O., J.J.Bolton, R. J. Anderson and E. Coppejans, 2005. Guide to the Seaweeds of Kwazulu-Natal. National Botanic Garden of Belgium, Brussels (Scripta Botanica Belgica), pp. 130-269.

Gordon-Mills, E. & Norris, R.E. 1986. Shepleya elixithamnia, a new species of Ceramiaceae (Rhodophyta) from South Africa. Phycologia 25: 160-167.

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.


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 24 May 2024.