Schizotricha frutescens (Ellis & Solander, 1786)

Schizotricha frutescens

Description: This plumulariid has a main stem which may be unbranched, but normally branches a few times in larger specimens. The side-branches are long, decreasing in length towards the top of the colony to give an overall outline which is oval in shape. They arise in a double series on opposite sides of the main stem, with a second double series of shorter branches on the frontal side and in the mid-region of most colonies. The reproductive polyps are white and clustered at the bases of the side branches in the middle of the colony. Typically 100mm tall with side branches 30mm long.

Habitat: In deep water, usually below 20 metres and more common below 30m in moderate tidal streams and moderate to exposed sites.

Ecology: The nudibranch Doto hystrix is a specific predator of this hydroid, living on the main stem near the base of the colony and spawning on the stem.

Distribution: Widely distributed on western coasts of the British Isles but rather local in its occurence.

Similar Species: In some habitats large specimens of Kirchenpaueria pinnata may resemble this species. They differ in having shorter side branches giving a parallel sided appearance to the colonies, and more delicate main stems.

Key Identification Features:

Distribution Map: NBN map : National Biodiversity Network mapping facility, data for UK.

WoRMS: Species record : World Register of Marine Species.

iNaturalist: Species account : iNaturalist World Species Observations database

 Picton, B.E. & Morrow, C.C. (2016). Schizotricha frutescens (Ellis & Solander, 1786). [In] Encyclopedia of Marine Life of Britain and Ireland. Accessed on 2024-06-24

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