MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

False Irish moss (Mastocarpus stellatus)

NBN Interactive29-05-2008

Map accurate at time of writing. Visit NBN or OBIS to view current distribution

Researched byPaolo Pizzolla Refereed byAdmin
Authority(Stackhouse) Guiry, 1984
Other common names- SynonymsGigartina stellata (Stackhouse) Guiry, 1984

Summary

Description

A small red alga (up to 17 cm in length), the fronds are channelled with a thickened edge and widen from a narrow stipe with disc-like holdfast. The channelling is often slight and is most noticeable at the base of the frond. Mature plants have conspicuous growths of short, shout papillae (reproductive bodies) on the fronds. The plant is dark reddish-brown to purple in colour and may be bleached. The common name false Irish moss is used as it may be confused with Chondrus crispus (Irish moss). The main features separating the two species being the channelled frond and appearance of reproductive bodies on mature plants.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Occurs all around the British Isles but is abundant mainly on western coasts.

Global distribution

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Habitat

This alga is found on rocky shores, particularly in very exposed areas where it grows amongst barnacles and mussels, on less exposed shores it is often abundant under fucoids. It mainly inhabits the lower shore and rockpools, but can be found in the shallow sublittoral and occasionally deeper waters.

Depth range

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Identifying features

  • Up to 17 cm in length.
  • Channelled fronds with thickened edge widen from a narrow stipe.
  • Disc like holdfast.
  • Darkish reddish-brown to purple in colour.

Additional information

May be collected with Chondrus crispus as a source of 'carrageen', which is used to make soups and jellies, and also as a remedy for respiratory disorders in Ireland ('Carrageen' is a hot water extract of red algae).

Listed by

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Further information sources

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Bibliography

  1. Dickinson, C.I., 1963. British seaweeds. London & Frome: Butler & Tanner Ltd.
  2. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  3. Hardy, F.G. & Guiry, M.D., 2003. A check-list and atlas of the seaweeds of Britain and Ireland. London: British Phycological Society
  4. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E. (ed.), 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]
  5. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/mermaid,
  6. NBN (National Biodiversity Network), 2002. National Biodiversity Network gateway. http://www.searchnbn.net, 2008-10-31
  7. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin., http://www.itsligo.ie/biomar/

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Pizzolla, P.F 2008. Mastocarpus stellatus False Irish moss. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1446

Last Updated: 29/05/2008