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Name derivation:

Corallina = L. corallina: coral-red; also Gr. corallion a coral

officinalis = L. officinalis: “medicinal” based on the widespread use of the alga as a vermifuge until the 18th century

Common names: coralline or coral weed


Corallina elongata J.Ellis & Solander;  number of species descriptions accepted taxonomically is unknown here.

Order Corallinales;  Family Corallinaceae



Algae are heavily calcified, bushy and erect, to 10 (-15) cm tall, and with one to several axes with joints and segments arising from a firmly attached perennial crust. Main upright axes terete below, flat above, pinnately or more irregularly branched, often in one plane.  Often highly variable morphologically.

Similar genera:

Corallina officinalis is the only articulate coralline in the Northwest Atlantic versus the Northeast Atlantic and the Pacific Coast of North America where there are many more species. By contrast, several crustose (i.e. non-articulate) corallines occur in the Northwest Atlantic (e.g. Clathromorphum, Leptophytum,Lithophyllum, Lithothamnion, Phymatolithon)

Medical application:

Contains sulfated polysaccharides (antioxidant) which can act as many types of medicines such as antiviral and antiherpetic (Yang 2011).


Very common in the Northwest Atlantic, in mid intertidal pools to 20 m; growing on rocks or other hard substrata, usually on exposed coasts.

Detailed distribution and references can be found online (Guiry and Guiry 2014).

This genus is directly affected by increasing CO2 levels in the ocean causing ocean acidification (Hofmann 2012)




Colthart, B. J. and H. W. Johansen. 1973. Growth rates of Corallina officinalis (Rhodophyta) at different temperatures. Mar. Biol. 18: 46-49

Ellis, J. and D. Solander  1786.  The natural history of many curious and uncommon zoophytes, collected from various parts of the globe by the late John Ellis...Systematically arranged and described by the late Daniel Solander. pp. xii + 208, 63 Plates. London: B. White & Son.

Guiry, M.D., and G.M. Guiry  2013.  AlgaeBase. World-wide electronic publication, National University of Ireland, Galway.  http://www.algaebase.org; searched on 16 January 2013.

Hofmann, L.C., Yildiz, G., Hanelt, D. and Bischof,K. 2012. Physiological responses of the calcifying rhodophyte,Corallina officinalis (L.), to future CO2 levels. Marine Biology 159: 783-792.

Johansen, H. W. 1981. Coralline Algae, A First Synthesis. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida.

Johansen, H. W. and B. J. Colthart. 1975. Variability in articulated coralline algae (Rhodophyta). Nova Hedwigia 26: 135-149.

Taylor, W. R.  1957. Marine Algae of the Northeastern Coast of North America. Revised edition. Univ. Michigan Press., Ann Arbor, ix + 509 pp.

Yang, Y., D. Liu, J. Wu and Y. Chen, S. Wang.  2011. In vitro antioxidant activities of sulfated polysaccharide fractions extracted from Corallina officinalis. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules 49:1031-1037.