[Taxacom] Ulva latissima Linne

Algologia algologia at telia.com
Fri Dec 15 11:24:18 CST 2006

Linne's contribution to algology was not as profound as to botany and 
several of his algal descriptions remain difficult to interpret in a 
modern context - let apart the identification of his algal types. One 
of them is Ulva latissima, originally described from the town of 
Marstrand on the Swedish west coast.

At that time, Linne did not use binomials and the new species was 
described in his 'Iter Vaestgoeta Resa 1746' ('it. W:goth.') as:
'ULVA oblonga plana und[ul]ata membranacea viridis.
Fucus longissimo latissimo, tenuique folio. Bauh. prodr. 154.'.
The text that follows can be translated to: '[She] grew right much on 
the bottom of the sea, laying there full of mud, looking as dark 
waves, so that she could not be well identified, before she was 
washed carefully. She was abundant on the sea bottom, and she did 
bends and twists, in and under of which numerous sea animals, such as 
Asteriae, Medusae, Gamari, found comfortably shelter. This [species] 
has not in the past been recorded in the registers of Flora 

This account appears just after Linne's description of another marine 
alga from Marstrand, namely of:
'Fucus caule tereti brevissimo, folio maximo oblongo indiviso (Flor. 1010).'
The text that follows here reads: '[He] covered entirely the sea 
bottom at the jetty of Marstrand; [he] looked like a thin layer of 
leather, oval to elongate, usually two ells long and 1 ell broad, 
forming waves. At the base, [he] was narrow or had a short petiole; 
[his] root adhered to stones with finger-like organs.'.

In 1753, Linne formally described both, the former as Ulva latissima 
and the latter as Fucus saccharinus (Laminaria saccharina), citing 
his 'It. w:goth.' (as only reference in the protologue of U. 
latissima). In Fl.Sv.2nd.ed. (1755, pp. 432, 433), the two taxa 
remain clearly delineated and the reference to 'It. w:goth.' is 
maintained. The confusion occurred later and the exact reason cannot 
be known, but comparing Linne's later accounts of Ulva latissima, it 
can be noted that in Syst.Nat.12th ed. (1767, p. 719) Linne  excludes 
the reference to 'It.w:goth' adding a sentence that relates Ulva 
latissima to Musae (i.e. Alaria). In a commentary in Mant.alt. (1771, 
p. 508), Ulva latissima is 'grouped' with Fucus esculentus (Alaria 
esculenata), the two said to be distinguished from Fucus saccharinus 
which lacks a midrib. This last observation indicates clearly that 
'Ulva latissima' was now accepted as an Alaria species - which is 
certainly erroneous because Alaria does not grow in Marstrand or 
elsewhere on the Swedish west coast. Hudson (Fl.angl. 1778, p. 567) 
reacted to Linne's new concept creating Ulva fusca to encompass the 
'new alga' citing U. latissima as a potential synonym. Turner (Fuci. 
1811, p. 69-72), who studied the Linne herbarium reported that Ulva 
latissima was a bullate form of Fucus saccharinus - an opinion 
accepted by Lyngbye (Tent.Hydr.Dan.1819, p. 22) and Wahlenberg 
(Fl.Lapp.1812, p. 494), but certainly not the majority who continued 
to treate U. latissima as a species of Ulva (e.g. De Candolle in 
Lamarck & De Candolle Fl.Fr.ed.2.1805; Agardh Syn.1817, Sp.Alg.1823; 
Harvey Phyc.Brit. 1848, tab.171; Areschoug Phyc.Scand.Mar.1850; 
Thuret in Mém.soc.imp.sci.nat. Cherbourg 2. 1854; Hauck Die 
Meeresalg.1884, p. 437; Newton Br.Seaw.1931, p. 78.; Levring 
Algenfl.norw.Westk.1937, p.18.; Kylin Chlor.schwed.Westk.1949, p. 17).

While Turner's observation might be correct, there are reasons to 
question the authenticity of the 'type'. There is no Laminaria 
element in the protologue (or later accounts) of Ulva latissima  - 
Linne himself having later associated this species with Alaria and 
not Laminaria. Accepting (or not) the hypothesis that a confusion of 
the Marstrand collections occurred after 1755 - and this would not be 
the only case with Linne's herbarium types (cf. Fucus spiralis L., 
Fucus furcellatus L., and Fucus rubens L.) - Ulva latissima has to be 
in agreement with the protologue (i.e. a Marstrand, green, 
membraneous-oblongate alga...). The only allien element in the 
protologue of Ulva latissima is the reference to Fucus longissimo 
latissimo tenuique folio. Bauhin prodr.154. This is probably the 
(only) reason that Linne later associated U. latissima with Alaria, 
but, since this genus does not grow on the Swedish coast, the Bauhin 
element must be excluded as an error - later corrected by Linne who 
cited this reference under the protologue of F. esculentus L.

with best wishes for Christmas and the New Year
Algologia: books, courses, reprints


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