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Pocillopora (Pocilloporidae)

Welcome to the Pocillopora 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 verify what you saw underwater.  The nature of this genus is highly distinctive, which means that it is unlikely to confuse it with other members of the group.

Pocillopora has been termed the Guinea Pig of the sea.  Certainly both lend themselves to easy study and husbandry within artificial laboratory environments, and each have been subject to extensive study providing us with insights into, amongst other things, genetic processes and patterns.  The literature provides a detailed review of this knowledge, check out the suggested readings at the end of the page for more information on specific areas of interest.

Vital Statistics

  • 17 species
  • Coral Finder p. 2
  • COTW – Vol 2 p.24-45


Widespread in the Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Pocillopora forms branching colonies, where the branches may vary from thick and blunt, to fine.  In some instances the colony may develop into thin meanders or blades.  Pocillopora are commonly found in a range of environments, and colony shape can vary widely with changing environmental conditions.

The corallites are small and immersed, and are scattered across the colony surface which is covered in thick bumps called verrucae.  These verrucae may look superficially like corallites, but closer inspection shows the dark, small corallites covering the bumps.

The immersed corallites and bumpy corallite surface are characteristic of the Pocilloporidae family.

(slide show with photos of corallites on verrucae)

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Pocillopora in one key group, but the distinctive verrucae ensure it is easy to differentiate from other similar genera.


Taxonomic Changes

Associated Species

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Pocilloporidae family page


Suggested Reading – Identification Tools

  • Chen, C. H., Chiou, C. Y., Dai, C. F., & Chen, C. A. (2008). Unique mitogenomic features in the scleractinian family Pocilloporidae (Scleractinia : Astrocoeniina). Marine Biotechnology, 10(5), 538-553.
  • Dai, C. F. (1989). Scleractinia of Taiwan.  I Families Astrocoeniidae and Pocilloporidae. Acta Oceanographica Taiwanica, 22, 83-101.
  • 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.
  • Flot, J. F., Magalon, H., Cruaud, C., Couloux, A., & Tillier, S. (2008). Patterns of genetic structure among Hawaiian corals of the genus Pocillopora yield clusters of individuals that are compatible with morphology. Comptes Rendus Biologies, 331(3), 239-247.
  • Glynn, P. W. (1999). Pocillopora inflata, a new species of scleractinian coral (Cnidaria: Anthozoa) from the Tropical Eastern Pacific. Pacific Science, 53(2), 168-180.
  • 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. (2002). New species described in ‘Corals of the World’: Australian Institute of Marine Science.
  • Veron, J. E. N., & Pichon, M. (1976). Scleractinia of Eastern Australia.  Part 1, Families Thamnasteriidae, Astrocoeniidae, Pocilloporidae. Australian Institute of Marine Science Monograph Series, 1, 1-86.

Suggested Reading – Other Topics

  • Bourne, D. G., & Munn, C. B. (2005). Diversity of bacteria associated with the coral Pocillopora damicornis from the Great Barrier Reef. Environmental Microbiology, 7(8), 1162-1174.
  • Chavez-Romo, H., & Reyes-Bonilla, H. (2007). Sexual reproduction of the coral Pocillopora damicornis in the southern Gulf of California, Mexico. Ciencias Marinas, 33(4), 495-501.
  • Glynn, P. W., Gassman, N. J., Eakin, C. M., Cortes, J., Smith, D. B., & Guzman, H. M. (1991). Reef coral reproduction in the eastern Pacific: Costa Rica, Panama and Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) .1. Pocilloporidae. Marine Biology, 109(3), 355-368.
  • Hidaka, M., & Diah, P. W. (2004). Different growth forms between young colonies derived from primary polyps and those regenerated from branch tips of a coral, Pocillopora damicornis. Zoological Science, 21(12), 1350-1350.
  • Lee, C. S., Walford, J., & Goh, B. P. L. (2009). Adding coral rubble to substrata enhances settlement of Pocillopora damicornis larvae. Coral Reefs, 28(2), 529-533.
  • Magalon, H., Adjeroud, M., & Veuille, M. (2005). Patterns of genetic variation do not correlate with geographical distance in the reef-building coral Pocillopora meandrina in the South Pacific. Molecular Ecology, 14(7), 1861-1868.
  • Magalon, H., Baudry, E., Huste, A., Adjeroud, M., & Veuille, M. (2006). High genetic diversity of the symbiotic dinoflagellates in the coral Pocillopora meandrina from the South Pacific. Marine Biology, 148(5), 913-922.
  • Marlow, H., & Martindale, M. Q. (2006). Early development through gastrulation in the scleractinian corals Pocillopora meandrina and Fungia scutaria. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 46, E227-E227.
  • Nothdurft, L. D., & Webb, G. E. (2007). Microstructure of common reef-building coral genera Acropora, Pocillopora, Goniastrea and Porites: constraints on spatial resolution in geochemical sampling. Facies, 53(1), 1-26.
  • Piniak, G. A., & Brown, E. K. (2008). Growth and mortality of coral transplants (Pocillopora damicornis) along a range of sediment influence in Maui, Hawai’i. Pacific Science, 62(1), 39-55.
  • Ridgway, T., Riginos, C., Davis, J., & Hoegh-Guldberg, O. (2008). Genetic connectivity patterns of Pocillopora verrucosa in southern African Marine Protected Areas. Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 354, 161-168.
  • Smith, L. W., Wirshing, H. H., Baker, A. C., & Birkeland, C. (2008). Environmental versus genetic influences on growth rates of the corals Pocillopora eydouxi and Porites lobata (Anthozoa : Scleractinia). Pacific Science, 62(1), 57-69.
  • Whitaker, K. (2006). Genetic evidence for mixed modes of reproduction in the coral Pocillopora damicornis and its effect on population structure. Marine Ecology-Progress Series, 306, 115-124.
  • Young, S. D. (1973). Calcification and synthesis of skeletal organic material in coral, Pocillopora damicornis (L) (Astrocoeniidae, Scleractinia). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, 44(2A), 669-672.