Saturday, August 19, 2017


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Scapophyllia (Merulinidae)

Welcome to the Scapophyllia 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 genus similar to what you saw underwater. Then choose one of the following links for further comparison with similar genera: Merulina, or Leptoria.

Vital Statistics

  • 1 species
  • Coral Finder p. 8c, 28
  • COTW – Vol 2 p. 383


Found in the central Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Colonies of Scapophyllia form columns that rise up from flat encrusting bases, and are found on turbid fringing reefs.  The corallites are indistinct, hidden within short meandering valleys that wrap around the columns.  The valleys have shared walls that are intersected by regular septa that alternate in size, resembling uneven zippers.

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Scapophyllia in one key group, with Merulina and Leptoria being possible candidates for confusion.

Similar genera to Scapophyllia (Coral Finder p28)

The zipper-like ridges of Scapophyllia look superficially like Merulina and Leptoria, but the columnar nature of Scapophyllia is distinctive.  Merulina may form small up-growths, and Leptoria may develop a hillocky growth form, but neither approaches the larger columns of Scapophyllia.


Similar genus: Merulina

Similar genus: Leptoria


Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Merulinidae family page


Suggested Reading – Identification Tools

  • Chevalier, J. P. (1975). Les scleractiniaires de la Melanesie Francaise.  II Expedition Francaise sur les recifs coralliens de la Nouvelle-Caledonie. Paris: Singer-Polignac.
  • 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