Halophila engelmannii

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Halophila engelmannii
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Hydrocharitaceae
Genus: Halophila
Species: H. engelmannii
Binomial name
Halophila engelmannii
Asch., 1875 [1]

Halophila engelmannii, commonly known as star grass and Engelmann's seagrass, is a flowering plant, a seagrass in the family Hydrocharitaceae. It grows underwater on sandy or muddy sea floors in shallow parts of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

Description[edit]

Halophila is the only genus of seagrass lacking basal sheaths on the leaf stems. Like other seagrasses, Halophila engelmannii has rhizomes that run along near the surface of sand or mud, with roots at the nodes to anchor them in place. Each leaf stem grows from a node and has a pair of scales halfway up and another pair at the base of the leaf blades. There are 4 to 8 blades on each stem, each of which is up to 30 millimetres (1.2 in) long and 6 millimetres (0.24 in) wide. Each blade is oval, has 6 to 8 veins and a finely serrated margin.[2]

Distribution[edit]

Halophila engelmannii is found on the coasts of Florida, Texas, the Bahamas, Cuba and the West Indies. It can grow in deeper waters than do some other species of seagrass, at depths down to 14.4 metres (47 ft). It is one of three species of Halophila found in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, the others being Halophila decipiens and Halophila johnsonii. They often form mixed seagrass meadows at greater depths than other seagrasses normally grow.[3]

Biology[edit]

Flowering occurs in the early summer when the water temperature reaches at least 22 °C. Fragments of the plant that become detached are able to grow into new plants. The seagrass meadow acts as habitat and food source for many invertebrates and fish. In the Indian River Lagoon animals that feed on Halophila engelmannii include sea turtles, sea urchins, parrotfish, surgeonfish and possibly pinfish.[3] The sea slug Elysia serca preferentially feeds on it by sucking sap.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Guiry, M. D. (2010). "Halophila engelmannii Ascherson, 1875". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  2. ^ Halophila engelmannii star grass Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
  3. ^ a b Halophila engelmannii (Star grass) Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
  4. ^ Elysia serca Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce. Retrieved 2012-01-28.