Family Caryophylliidae: (Gk. karyon, nucleus; Gk. phyllon, leaf).... presumably relating to the knob-like
appearance of the polyp and the leafy septa.
Along with the Faviidae, the Caryophylliidae thrived in both the Cretaceous and the Cenozoic.
It has more genera than any other family, but most of these are azooxanthellate. The zooxanthellate genus of the Indo-Pacific and
Eusmilia of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico are readily distinguished from their azooxanthellate relatives.
Most species display relatively little environment-correlated or geographic variation.
All Caryophylliidae have a membranous epitheca, which is a fine external layer
that surround the corallites (Veron 1986). Septa resemble those described by Pourtalès; Columella with pinules. Most non-reefbuilding
azooxanthellate members are even found in temperate as well as deeper waters around the world.
The most common genera among this family are the genus Phyllangia that has similarities with the family Rhizangiidae.
Although they are all azooxanthellate, some Phyllangia species (e.g. P.consagensis and P.americana) may
occur in shallow water.
In PNG, Caryophylliidae are represented by numerous azooxanthellate and sometimes zooxanthellate species that divide in both
colonial as well as solitary species. The only zooxanthellate are found among the genus Heterocyathus.
Among the other included in this family are the Phacelocyathus, Caryophyllia, Trochocyathus, Paraconotrochus, Polycyathus,
Deltocyathus, Stephanocyathus, Paracyathus, and Desmophyllum are just some of the many deep water
Some members of the family Caryophylliidae (112kB)
Key to the family Caryophylliidae
Zooxanthellate genera are confined to the Indo-Pacific region only: --------------------------------------------------
Heterocyathus (Gk. heteros, different; khyatos, bowl):
The only species with endosymbionts is H.aequicostatus. It forms small and solitary colonies;
juveniles usually attach to the shell of a gastropod, which is subsequently covered by the growing coral.
There is also a commensal sipunculid worm enclosed in the base of the coral.
PRESENT DISTRIBUTION: western Indian Ocean to central Pacific.
GENERAL ABUNDANCE: restricted to inter-reef habitats.
FOSSIL RECORD: Pliocene of the Pacific.
NUMBER OF EXTANT SPECIES: 1 known species.
Phyllangia (Gk. phyllon, leaf; angeion, vessel) - previously grouped under Rhizangiidae
This genus has similarities with the family Rhizangiidae.
From the nine species known in this genus only two may contain endosymbionts (could be zooxanthellate) -
these two species occur also in shallow waters.
PRESENT DISTRIBUTION: western Atlantic, eastern Pacific.
GENERAL ABUNDANCE: rare.
FOSSIL RECORD: .
NUMBER OF EXTANT SPECIES: 2 known species.