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Botryocladia pseudodichotoma - Sea grapes

Geographic range:
Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia to Baja California, Mexico

Key features:
Looks like a cluster of red grapes

Similar species:

bay (rocky shore), exposed rocky shore, kelp forest, protected rocky shore
Botryocladia pseudodichotoma - Sea grapes image


Primary common name:
Sea Grapes
  ITIS code:
Synonymous name(s):
Chrysymenia pseudodichotoma
General grouping:
Red seaweed/algae

Geographic Range
Range description:
Botryocladia pseudodichotoma can be found from the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, to Baja California, Mexico.
Northern latitude extent:
  Southern latitude extent:
East longitude extent:
  West longitude extent:

Intertidal Height
Lowest intertidal height:
0 meters OR 0 feet
  Highest intertidal height:
0 meters OR 0 feet
Intertidal height notes:
Not found intertidally.

Subtidal Depth Range
Minimum depth:
6 meters OR 20 feet
  Maximum depth:
18 meters OR 59.94 feet
Subtidal depth notes:
Botryocladia pseudodichotoma can be found subtidally between 6 — 18 m depth.

bay (rocky shore), exposed rocky shore, kelp forest, protected rocky shore
Habitat notes:
Botryocladia pseudodichotoma lives on rocks and other algae in the subtidal.

Relative abundance:
Botryocladia pseudodichotoma is abundant in certain areas.

Species Description
General description:
Botryocladia pseudodichotoma is a red alga in the family Rhodymeniaceae in the Phylum Rhodophyta. The genus name stems from the Greek words botrys and klados, which mean cluster of grapes and branch, respectively. This alga resembles a cluster of deep red grapes.
Distinctive features:
Botryocladia pseudodichotoma is a striking, rose-red alga. The thallus is 10 — 30 cm tall with a single, solid axis that is divergently branched and bears numerous elongate, pyriform (pear-shaped), sacchate (sack-like) branches. The hollow and inflated sacchate branches are 4 — 7 cm long and 6 — 25 mm in diameter. They are filled with a colorless, acidic, polysaccharide and protein mucilage which makes them buoyant and better able to compete for light.

The tissues of Botryocladia pseudodichotoma has three cell layers, the first is the pigmented cortical cells, then the unpigmented medium sized gelatinous cells and finally, unpigmented large gelatinous medullar cells (and specialized secretory cells). These secretory cells cluster in groups of 10 — 20 on the inward facing surface of medullar cells and can be viewed under a microscope by making cross-sections with a razorblade.
Botryocladia pseudodichotoma can grow to be 30 cm tall.

Natural History
General natural history:
All red algae, including Botryocladia pseudodichotoma, are red because of the presence of the pigment phycoerythrin, which reflects red light and absorbs blue light. Since blue light penetrates water to a greater depth than other light, these pigments allow red algae to photosynthesize and live at somewhat greater depths than other algae.
Herbivores, include several gastropods, feed on Botryocladia pseudodichotoma.
Botryocladia pseudodichotoma is an alga, and like all photoautotrophs, uses photosynthesis to grow and reproduce by capturing the energy of the sun to build carbohydrate molecules from carbon dioxide and water.

Feeding behavior
Feeding behavior(s):
Feeding behavior notes:
January - December  
Botryocladia pseudodichotoma, as with most red algae, has a complicated life history, involving three stages of independent organisms to complete its life cycle. The three life history phases of its triphasic life cycle are the gametophyte, the carposporophyte and the tetrasporophyte. The specialized female reproductive cells are called carpogonia and the male cells are called spermatia.
Abbott, I.A., and G.J. Hollenberg. 1976. Marine Algae of California. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. 827 p.

Felton, M. 2006. Marine Botany, Botryocladia pseudodichotoma. World Wide Web electronic publication., Accessed [08/07/06].

Mondragon, J. 2003. Seaweeds of the Pacific Coast: common marine algae from Alaska to Baja California. Sea Challengers, Monterey, CA. 97 p.

Data supplied by SIMoN Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Anthopleura xanthogrammica - Giant green anemone

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