BIOTIC Species Information for Saccorhiza polyschides
Researched byNicola White Data supplied byMarLIN
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
Scientific nameSaccorhiza polyschides Common nameFurbelows
MCS CodeZR359 Recent SynonymsSaccorhiza bulbosa

PhylumChromophycota Subphylum
Superclass ClassPhaeophyceae
Subclass OrderLaminariales
Suborder FamilyPhyllariaceae
GenusSaccorhiza Speciespolyschides

Additional InformationNo text entered
Taxonomy References Norton, 1970, Norton & Burrows, 1969,
General Biology
Growth formForest
Feeding methodPhotoautotroph
Mobility/MovementPermanent attachment
Environmental positionEpilithic
Typical food typesNot relevant HabitAttached
BioturbatorNot relevant FlexibilityHigh (>45 degrees)
FragilityRobust SizeLarge(>50cm)
Height Growth Rate145 mm/week
Adult dispersal potentialNone DependencyIndependent
General Biology Additional Information
  • Saccorhiza polyschides is a fast growing, annual and opportunistic species. The obvious plant is a gender-less sporophyte which grows up to 4 m long and may grow at 2 m a month at the peak of the growth season in late spring. The large sporophytes are present on the shore from May until winter. In autumn they commence fruiting and start to decay, leaving behind the bulbous holdfast, which remains on the shore until it is washed off in late winter.
  • The unusual holdfast of Saccorhiza polyschides is formed from a hollow bulbous growth above the sapling holdfast which expands to overwhelm it, sending out secondary haptera to attach to the substratum.
  • The shape of the frond varies with the degree and nature of water movement. In sites of low water current plants produce broad undivided fronds, while those in areas of strong currents have long deeply divided fronds. Plants from wave exposed locations have short fronds divided into few sections. Experiments have shown that these variations are due to phenotypic rather than genotypic variation (Norton, 1978).
Biology References Norton, 1970, Norton & Burrows, 1969, Norton, 1978, Birkett et al., 1998(b),
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandRecorded from the all coasts of Britain and Ireland, but absent from Northumberland to the Solent.
Global distributionRecorded from the coast of Norway as far north as Rorvik. It extends south to Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, and Morocco as far as Cape Jubi. It also penetrates into the eastern Mediterranean and there are isolated reports from the coast of Italy.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth range0 -35m
MigratoryNon-migratory / Resident   
Distribution Additional Information
  • Saccorhiza polyschides colonizes abraded surfaces such as sand-scoured rocks or boulders that are mobile in winter and is characteristic of much disturbed substrata.
  • Plants grow to a maximum depth of 35 metres in Cornwall. The lower depth limit of the plants may be controlled by grazing from the sea urchin %Echinus esculentus%. When urchins have been removed, the lower limit of Saccorhiza polyschides has been found to extend by 3m.
  • The species is not found in areas of reduced salinity. Lowered salinity reduces the rate of development and growth is irreversibly inhibited below 9 psu. The species competes for space with %Laminaria hyperborea% and the upper limit of Saccorhiza polyschides is related to the lower limit of %Laminaria hyperborea%. Where %Laminaria hyperborea% is absent the species may extend up to the extreme low water springs mark.

Substratum preferencesBedrock
Large to very large boulders
Small boulders
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Offshore seabed
Strait / sound
Ria / Voe
Biological zoneSublittoral Fringe
Upper Infralittoral
Wave exposureModerately Exposed
Very Sheltered
Extremely Sheltered
Ultra Sheltered
Tidal stream strength/Water flowVery Strong (>6 kn)
Strong (3-6 kn)
Moderately Strong (1-3 kn)
Weak (<1 kn)
Very Weak (negligible)
SalinityFull (30-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Norton, 1970, Norton & Burrows, 1969, Birkett et al., 1998(b), Norton & South, 1969, Hardy & Guiry, 2003,
Reproduction/Life History
Reproductive typeAlternation of generations
Developmental mechanismSpores (sexual / asexual)
Reproductive SeasonOctober to May Reproductive LocationInsufficient information
Reproductive frequencySemelparous Regeneration potential No
Life span<1 year Age at reproductive maturity<1 year
Generation time<1 year FecundityInsufficient information
Egg/propagule sizeZoospores ca 5 µm diam. Fertilization typeExternal
Larval/Juvenile dispersal potential100-1000m Larval settlement periodInsufficient information
Duration of larval stage<1 day   
Reproduction Preferences Additional Information
  • Saccorhiza polyschides has a typical Laminarian life history in which a macroscopic diploid sporophyte alternates with a microscopic haploid gametophyte.
  • The species is an annual. Sporophytes typically have a life span of less than 10 months. However, plants produced late in the season may over-winter and live for 14-16 months.
  • The base of the lamina, the stipe frills and the bulb are covered in unilocular sporangia, which produce zoospores by meiosis. Each sporangia contains 128 zoospores. The flagellated zoospores are about 5 microns in diameter and possess an eyespot which makes them strongly phototactic. The zoospores may be transported at least 200 m from the parent and they loose their flagella after 24 hrs and settle on the available substrata. 75% of the zoospores settle on the substrata with 24 hours.
  • The zoospores develop into microscopic dioecious gametophytes. Gametophytes take the form of unicellular or filamentous structures. The male gametophytes are more branched than the females and have more numerous, smaller and paler cells. These become fertile in under 10 days in optimal conditions. Male gametophytes release motile sperm that fertilize eggs of female gametophytes, the resultant zygote develops into the new sporophyte.
Reproduction References Norton, 1970, Norton & Burrows, 1969, Birkett et al., 1998(b),
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