E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Porphyra cuneiformis (Setchell et Hus) Krishnamurthy 1972
red cellophane

Introduction to the Algae
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Distribution of Porphyra cuneiformis
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Ocean Biogeography Information System (global distribution)

Species Information

Family Description:
The members of this family and order are among the most primitive of the red algae and lack the complex structures that appear in most other reds. The conspicuous individual is the haploid gametophyte, and the alternate phase is a microscopic filamentous "conchocelis" phase that grows within the shells of marine mollusks and barnacles. Egg cells form on the macroscopic gametophyte, and they are fertilized by spermatia from the same or a different plant. Following fertilization, the zygote divides directly into a packet of spores called zygotospores (to differentiate them from carpospores formed in higher red algae). These diploid spores germinate into the diploid filamentous (and presumably perennial) conchocelis. In some species, gametophytic and conchocelis phases produce asexual spores that germinate to give rise to another individual of the same phase. Therefore, despite being structurally simple, many species of Porphyra rival other reds in the complexity of their life cycles. Botanists have suggested that the boring conchocelis phase is an adaptation to resist grazing by such herbivores as limpets. However, fossils of boring conchocelis have been dated to more than 500 million years ago, long before the first limpet appeared.
Porphyra is a difficult genus of red algae, and you cannot expect to identify every specimen you find. Species in addition to those listed below are also found in our area.
Species description:
Red Cellophane is distinguished by its uniformly bright pink to reddish color. Only the margins, where both female and male reproductive structures are intermixed, are somewhat paler. This spring species has a deeply ruffled margin. Despite having two cell layers, it is thinner than Purple Laver. A typical measurement by the end of May in Southeast Alaska would be 10 cm (4 in) long by 7 cm (2.8 in) wide, with marginal ruffles about 3 cm (1.25 in) deep and 1 to 1.5 cm (0.5 to 0.6 in) apart (these measurements are most easily made on pressed specimens), but much larger specimens occur, especially in sheltered habitats (the current record is over 6 m, or about 20 ft). When growing as an epiphyte, it is often longer and narrower than usual.

Red Cellophane occurs throughout our area in spring. It can grow on rocks, on dead clam shells, or as an epiphyte on the red alga, Bleached Brunette (Cryptosiphonia woodii). It can also epiphytize brown algae such as kelp. It can grow as isolated sheets or in clusters.

Source: North Pacific Seaweeds

Habitat / Range

Bathymetry: low intertidal and upper subtidal
World Distribution: Aleutian Islands, Alaska, to Monterey, California

Source: North Pacific Seaweeds

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Porphyra miniata
Porphyra miniata var. cuneiformis

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Range and Status Information Links

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General References