Chondracanthus corymbiferus

Chondracanthus corymbiferus (Kützing) Guiry

Type locality: In sinu Californica (Monterey, Monterey Co., California, USA; Hughey & Hommersand 2008) (see link Kützing 1847).

Etymology: Chondracanthus, from Greek = Spiny (Druelhl 2000); corymbiferus from Latin, bearing corymbs (Guiry & Guiry 2013)

Common name: Turkish towel (Druelhl 2000).

 1. Taxonomy

Class: Florideophyceae

Order: Gigartinales

Family: Gigartinaceae

 2. Identification

Thalli large, unbranched, tough and broad-oval but may be irregularly lobed (Fig. 1, 2). In the field the blades usually are organized in clumps with different sizes and ages (Abbott & Hollenberg 1976; Fig. 1). The blades are generally attached to strong discoid holdfast and on surface there are short and hemispherical papillae randomly distributed (Fig. 3,  4). The blades are color ranges from blue-red (when originating from depth) or yellowish-pink (in shallow water-locations). It may reach 80 cm in length but usually is less than ~30 cm long (as this specimens; Fig. 2). In histological terms, in the cross-section is possible to watch the medulla with a network of filaments of variety of sizes and shapes (Fig. 5; Gabrielson et al. 2012).

3. Distribution:

This specimen was collected from the lower intertidal zone at Reuben Tarte State Park, WA. Usually is possible to find on firm substrata in the surf-zone of the lower intertidal zone and deeper to 30 m (Braune 2011).

Has been registered and collected as Gigartina corymbifera (Kützing) J.Agardh in North America (British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California (1, 2) and Mexico). Also, has been registered and collected as G. californica J. Agardh in North America (Mexico) and as C. corymbiferus (Kützing) Guiry in North America (British Columbia (1, 2), Oregon (1, 2), California (1, 2 , 3), Baja California, Mexico) (see Guiry & Guiry 2013). In the Washington state (US), according with specimens deposited in the Friday Harbor Laboratories Herbarium (first identified as C. papillata and then determined as C. corymbiferus) the regional distribution is focused in sites on San Juan Island (some site near or around to San Juan Island) such as: Mimesota Reef, Cape Alava, Salmon Bank, Golden Garden (Seattle), Mosquito Pass, Limestone Quary and Lonesome Cove (Specimen deposited at Friday Harbor Laboratories Herbarium).

4. Vouchers.

Number specimens that were prepared in the development of this page: #1

Preservation: Herbarium Marine Algae Course Summer 2013.

ID PHYKOS: #00125

5. Research Notes

 There is little information on ecological and biological aspects about this species (see link of search). The type species (lectotype) of the genus Chondracanthus is C. chauvinii (Bory de Saint-Vincent) Kützing. However, actually exist greater clarity about of the taxonomy of species of Chondracanthus (Hughey & Hommersand 2008). Morphological and molecular phylogenetic studies between Gulf of California and Pacific coast of North America have been performed, existing at present a total of 12 species for the genus Chondracanthus  (Hughey & Hommersand 2008). In ecological term, the foliose macroalgae C. corymbiferus, together with turf-forming macroalgae form distinct assemblages on shallow reefs worldwide and frequently coexist in a patch mosaic (particularly in shallow subtidal reef in southern California; Miller et al. 2009). It has been found that a foliose assemblage C. corymbiferus is more productive (i.e. primary production) than turf assemblages, as a Pterosiphonia dendroidea (Montagne) Falkenberg due to their greater biomass per unit area (Miller et al. 2009). In other parts of the world, a species of this genus Chondracanthus (e.g. C. chamissoi (C.Agardh) Kützing) is harvested commercially as raw material for the extraction of carrageenan and is exported to Asian countries for human consumption (Vásquez & Vega 2001). In this specie the vegetative propagation via attachment of drifting fronds and the development of secondary attachment structures has been successfully evaluated from apical fragments of pinnules, and basal and lateral branches (Macchiavello et al. 2003; Otaíza & Fonseca 2011)

As anecdotal data, the larger forms up to 40 cm long are called Turkish towel because of their rough texture. They are used in bathing, much as a loofah (the vascular system of dried squash), to remove dead skin.

6. Literature Cited

Abbott, I.A. and G.J., Hollenberg. 1976. Marine algae of California. Stanford University Press. Stanford.

Braune, W. 2011. Seaweeds. A colour guide to common benthic green, brown and red algae of the world’s oceans. Koeltz Scientific Books, Germany.

Druel, L.D. 2000. Pacific Seaweeds. A guide to common seaweeds of the West Coast. Harbour Publishing, Canada.

Gabrielson, P.W., Lindstrom, S.C. and O’Kelly, C. 2012. Keys to the seaweeds and seagrasses of Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. Phycological Contribution Number 8. Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Guiry, M.D. and Guiry, G.M. 2013. AlgaeBase. World-wide electronic publication, National University of Ireland, Galway.

Hughey, J.R. and Hommersand, M.H. 2008. Morphological and molecular systematic study of Chondracanthus (Gigartinaceae, Rhodophyta) from Pacific North America. Phycologia 47: 124-155.

Macchiavello, J.E., Bulboa, C.R. and Edding, M. 2003. Vegetative propagation and spore-based recruitment in the carrageenophyte Chondracanthus chamissoi (Gigartinales, Rhodophyta) in northern Chile. Phycol. Res. 51: 45-50.

Miller, R.J., Reed, D.C. and Brzezinski M.A. 2009. Community structure and productivity of subtidal turf and foliose algal assemblages. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 388: 1-11.

Otaíza, R.D. and F.G., Fonseca. 2011 .Effect of dissolved calcium on the formation of secondary attachment structures in different types of branches of Chondracanthus chamissoi (Rhodophyta, Gigartinales). Rev. Biol. Mar. Oceanogr. 46: 263-268.

Vásquez, J.A. and Vega, J.M.A. 2001. Chondracanthus chamissoi (Rhodophyta, Gigartinales) in northern Chile: ecological aspects for management of wild populations. J. Appl. Phycol. 13: 267-277.

7. Links to additional resources

For more information:

For molecular data:

8. Page Authors & Affiliations

Author: Mauricio H. Oróstica

Affiliations: 1) Ecology Marine Lab ( Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas (CEAZA), Larrondo 1281, Coquimbo, Chile. 2) Universidad de Atacama-CRIDESAT. Copayapu 485, Copiapó, Chile (

Chondracanthus pageFigure 1. Specimen on rock collected at Reuben Tarte State Park, WA (48° 36’ 46.45’’ N; 123° 05’ 56.16’’ W).

Chondracanthus page1Figure 2. Specimen identified as C. corymbiferus (Kützing) Guiry.

Chondracanthus holdfastFigure 3. Holdfast of C. corymbiferus (Kützing) Guiry.

Chondracanthus papillaeFigure 4. Surface of the blade with papillae of C. corymbiferus (Kützing) Guiry.

Chondracanthus cross sectionFigure 5. Cross-section of blade of C. corymbiferus (Kützing) Guiry (40x).