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Euphyllia (Euphyllidae)

Welcome to the Euphyllia genus landing page. In this section, you will find general information about this genus and tips on how to identify it. If you are looking to confirm an observation made with the Coral Finder, use the image browser below to identify a growth form or structure similar to what you saw underwater. Then choose one of the following links for further information on similar genera: meandering, day-time extended polyps, or juvenile Euphyllia.

Mass spawning by scleractinian corals is an amazing phenomenon that is increasingly well studied.  Euphyllia has provided an interesting insight into the workings of corals in association with these events; investigations by Twan et al., (2003) have shown that concentrations of certain sex steroids increase in Euphyllia colonies just prior to the mass spawning event.  For more information on this association check out the Suggested Reading list below.

Vital Statistics

  • 8 species
  • Coral Finder p. 6, 26, 27
  • COTW – Vol 2 p. 68-81


Found in the Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Juvenile Euphyllia appear solitary but grow into mound-like colonies with age.  These colonies are uncommon and may be found in a range of reef zones but preferentially grow in shallow and or protected areas.

The corallites grow on short tubes (phaceloid) or in meandering valleys (15-30mm wide) with separate walls (flabello-meandroid).  The septa and walls are thick and smooth, but are generally hidden by long anemone-like tentacles.  The shape of the tentacle tips allows species level identification.

The large day-time expanded polyps and thick, smooth septa are characteristic of the Euphyllidae.

(slide show with photos of tentacles and when tentacles retracted.)

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Euphyllia in three key groups with CatalaphylliaPlerogyra, and Physogyra being candidates for confusion.

Similar genera to meandering forms of Euphyllia (Coral Finder p6)

Euphyllia can be confused with Catalaphyllia but they are easily separated by the shorter tentacles and deeper corallite walls typical of Euphyllia. Catalaphyllia also has a large, striped, fleshy, oral disc that looks anemone-like, and distinctive green and pink colouration.

Meandering Euphyllia

Similar genus: Catalaphyllia

Similar genera to Euphyllia with large daytime expanded polyps (Coral Finder p27)

Euphyllia can be confused with Physogyra and Plerogyra but these genera can be differentiated by their characteristic grape-like bubbles (vesicles). Euphyllia doesn’t posses these vesicles.


Similar genus: Plerogyra

Similar genus: Physogyra

Similar genera to juvenile Euphyllia (Coral Finder p26)

Juvenile Euphyllia can be difficult to differentiate from Plerogyra.  However the grape-like vesicles of Plerogyra are only expanded during the day, whereas the tentacles are extended at night.  Tentacles of Euphyllia are extended day and night.

Juvenile Euphyllia

Similar genus: Plerogyra


Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Euphyllidae family page


Suggested Reading – Identification Tools

  • Aguilar, T., & Denyer, P. (2001). New species of Euphyllia (Scleractinia : caryophylliidae) in the limestones of Barra Honda (Paleogene), Costa Rica. Revista De Biologia Tropical, 49, 195-201.
  • Davie, P. J., & Phillips, J. A. (2009). 13th International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay, Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 54(2), 1-118.
  • Veron, J. E. N. (1985). Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
  • Veron, J. E. N. (2000). Corals of the World. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Marine Science.
  • Veron, J. E. N., & Pichon, M. (1980). Scleractinia of Eastern Australia.  Part 3, Families Agaraciidae, Siderastreidae, Fungiidae, Oculinidae, Merulinidae, Mussidae, Pectiniidae, Carophylliidae, Dendrophylliidae. Australian Institute of Marine Science Monograph Series, IV, 471.

Suggested Reading – Other Topics

  • Twan, W. H., Hwang, J. S., & Chang, C. F. (2003). Sex steroids in scleractinian coral, Euphyllia ancora: Implication in mass spawning. Biology of Reproduction, 68(6), 2255-2260.