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

Cryptosiphonia woodii J. Agardh
bleached brunette

Introduction to the Algae

© Michael Hawkes  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #14797)

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Distribution of Cryptosiphonia woodii
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Ocean Biogeography Information System (global distribution)

Species Information

Family Description:
Members of this family come in a wide variety of forms, from cylindrical and branched to flattened blades. Some species have a single axial filament, whereas others have a multiaxial filamentous medulla. What unites these species into a single family is the occurrence of the carpogonium at the end of branch of beadlike cells and similarities in the formation of carposporangia after the carpogonium has been fertilized. All of the species described here have an alternation of isomorphic generations, and male and female reproductive structures usually occur on separate individuals.
Species in this family have unusual cell wall carbohydrates that have been shown to have antiviral properties.
Species description:
This is one of the numerous profusely branched red algae that seem so abundant in our area. It is usually a peculiar olive brown to deep maroon rather than the rosy red or purplish red of most other profusely branched red seaweeds. Late in the season, its tips tend to lighten considerably, leading us to give it this somewhat whimsical common name. Cryptosiphonia is much coarser than Polysiphonia and Pterosiphonia. Bleached Brunette also grows higher on the rocks than most other branched reds, which are usually in the low intertidal zone. It grows abundantly both in protected waters and on the outer coast of our area.

Individuals reach 10 cm (4 in) tall by late April, about which time they quit growing and become reproductive. The main axis is about 1-2 mm in diameter while the side branches are about half this. The side branches themselves bear numerous short side branches. All branches are tapered, both at their bases and at their tips. Basally, there is a small discoidal holdfast. The gametophytic individuals are dioecious; that is, males and females are separate individuals, and the tetrasporophyte is isomorphic with the gametophytes.

This species could be useful in treating infections of Herpes simplex virus.

Researchers believe that Bleached Brunette is an opportunistic species able to colonize rapidly any new space that opens in the intertidal zone at the appropriate height.

Source: North Pacific Seaweeds

Habitat / Range

Bathymetry: lower mid intertidal
World Distribution: Unalaska Island, Alaska, to San Pedro, California

Source: North Pacific Seaweeds

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Cryptosiphonia grayana
Pikea woodii

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Range and Status Information Links

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General References