Plexaurella Dichotoma

Typical colony shape of Plexaurella. J. Sprung

Plexaurella DichotomaPlexaurella Grisea

Two quite different species of Plexaurella. The lower specimen has round pores like Pseudoplex-aura, but it does not have purple sclerites inside. J. Sprung

Closeup of Plexaurella, showing the typical slit-pore-like calyces J. Sprung

Plexaurella DichotomaSea Rod Retracted

Common Name: Corky sea fingers, Slit-pore sea rod

Colour: Light brown, almost yellow, with darker brown polyps.

Distinguishing Characteristics: Plexaurella species have a corky appearance when the polyps are retracted. P. dichotoma, P. nutans, and P. grisea are the most common species available. Small colonies are often shaped like a UY\ while large colonies are often bushy. Another species, P. grandiflora has huge polyps, about 1 to 1.5 cm in diameter, with the main branch at least 2 to 3 cm in diameter (appearing 5 cm in diameter when the polyps are expanded). Plexaurella grandiflora typically grows straight up as a single trunk with at most a few7 side branches like a sahuaro cactus. Most Plexaurella spp. have crescent shaped pores when the polyps are closed, though some have round pores like the similar-looking Pseudoplexaura spp.

Similar Species: Pseudoplexaura has more slippery texture and round pores when the polyps are closed. It also typically has a purple cortex while Plexaurella is uniformly yellowish brown throughout. Some smooth pale brown varieties of Eunicea may be confused with Plexaurella, though the polyps at the tips of the branches in Eunicea nearly always show the characteristic bumpy calyces when the polyps retract, and Eunicea usually have dark or purplish sclerites in the cortex. One species of Plexaurella is slippery like Pseudoplexaura, but it has characteristic crescent-shaped calyces and the cortex is not purple.

Aquarium Care: This genus is especially hardy, ships well, and grows beautifully under a variety of lighting conditions. See description for general topic: Caribbean Photosynthetic Gorgonians.

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