Duncan, 1884, p. 118

Type Species

Physophyllia ayleni Wells, 1935, p. 342, pl. 13; Subsequent Designation Wells, 1935, p. 340

Type Specimen: Holotype; NHMUK 1862.7.16.46; Verified; Dry Preserved

Type Locality: Japan (Recent)



Colonial, with intracalicular budding only. Corallites polymorphic and organically united; monticules absent. Coenosteum costate, extensive amount (≥ corallite diameter). Calice width medium (4–15 mm), with medium relief (3–6 mm). Costosepta confluent. Septa in 3 cycles (24–36 septa). Free septa present but irregular. Septa spaced < 6 septa per 5 mm. Costosepta unequal in relative thickness. Columellae trabecular and spongy (> 3 threads), < 1/4 of calice width, and discontinuous among adjacent corallites (lamellar linkage). Paliform (uniaxial) lobes weak or moderate. Epitheca absent and endotheca abundant (vesicular).


'Colony large, spreading, pedunculate, foliaceous, folia united and presenting faint broad ridges, which are crossed by septocostae. Corallites low, wide apart, arranged more or less in concentric circles. Calices distant, large, sunken, deep, elongate, forming series of 2 to 4, or circular. Fossa large and deep. Columella small, trabeculate. Septa large, exsert, spinulose, especially near the axis, unequal, wide apart; ending in septocostae which are confluent with those of the calices on either side, and some of which pass over broad ridges radially. Intercalicular surface large, gibbous or ridged, formed of convex vesicular endotheca; this endotheca fills up the interseptal loculi also, and is greatly developed. Calices on one side of the colony only. Common wall inferior, costulate to the base. Costae distinct, spinulose. No epitheca. Fissiparity occurs, and also gemmation.' (Duncan, 1884: 118)


Based on an examination of the type material of Physophyllia ayleni, the genus shares all macromorphological characters studied here with Pectinia and Mycedium. Note that quantitative measurements were based on peripheral corallites as some structures of the central corallite, such as the columella, may be extremely large in comparison. Although we recognize Physophyllia as distinct from Pectinia and Mycedium, subcorallite morphology and/or DNA sequence data will reveal the accuracy of this interpretation. The latter two genera are indistinguishable for all of the characters used for the present analysis, but they arguably span a wide range of morphologies not coded into phylogenetic data. The coenosteum of Physophyllia is made up of large ridges filled with vesicular endotheca, and do not form upwardly projecting laminae seen in most Pectinia species. Its corallites are also not distinctly inclined towards the periphery of the colony, a clear distinction from Mycedium. If Physophyllia is indeed separable from either of them based on the same molecular markers employed, it would likely be recovered outside of the Pectinia + Mycedium clade, and subcorallite disparities could be expected.


This is a monotypic genus with Physophyllia ayleni as its sole member. The species was placed in Pectinia by Veron, 2000, vol. 2: 352 based on his collection, presumably shown in figs 1–3. These are however distinct from the type material studied by Wells, 1935: 342 and thus have been described as Pectinia crassa Ditlev, 2003: 204, figs 13–15 with material from Sabah.


  • Western Pacific; Recent
The distribution of Physophyllia remains as defined by the type material of P. ayleni—holotype from Japan and paratypes from Macclesfield Bank in the South China Sea. Subsequent studies appear to have expanded this range to the Maldives (Pillai and Scheer, 1976: 69, pl. 31: fig. 1; Scheer, 1984) and western Australia (Veron, 1993: 237), but only the former could be verified as a likely candidate for the species.

This page has been in preparation since 11-Mar-2009 19:33

This version was contributed by Danwei Huang on 05-Feb-2014 23:34.

Page authors are: Ann Budd Danwei Huang. Please contact the editor if you would like to contribute to the diagnosis of this taxon.

The editor is: Ann Budd

Label for the holotype of Physophyllia ayleni Wells, 1935
Surface of corallum.
Coralllum view of holotype of type species.