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Trachyphyllia (Trachyphyllidae)

Welcome to the Trachyphyllia 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. Then click on the following link for further comparison with a similar genus: Lobophyllia.

Trachyphyllia is a vibrantly coloured coral, painted in shades of blues, greens and yellows which are distinctive against the sediment of inter-reefal areas where colonies are commonly found.  The genus only has one species providing easy identification.

Vital Statistics

  • 1 species
  • Coral Finder p. 2, 26
  • COTW – Vol 3 p. 272-273


Widespread in the Indo-Pacific around continental islands, but rarely found on reefs.

ID Tips

Trachyphyllia is a free-living coral that generally forms into small hour-glass shaped colonies (8cm).  However larger colonies that have developed into a massive flabello-meandroid form may be found occasionally (see COTW for pictures of the flabello-meandroid form).

(slide show with photos of different forms of Trachyphyllia)

The colonies are covered by a thick fleshy mantle that masks the skeleton and fine structures such as the septa which are regular and covered in small teeth.  The polyp mouths are large, reaching 1cm in width.

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Trachyphyllia in two key groups with Lobophyllia being the main candidate for confusion.

Similar genera to Trachyphyllia (Coral Finder p6)

Trachyphyllia can be confused with Lobophyllia but the genera are easily separated by the more regular and finer toothed septa, and the free-living growth form.  The septa of Lobophyllia are large and spiky, and colonies are attached.


(slide show with a. photos of Trachyphyllia)

Similar genus: Lobophyllia

(slide show with a. photos of Lobophyllia)


Trachyphyllia is often associated with other free-living corals that inhabit soft sediments, such as Cycloseris and Diaseris.

Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Trachyphyllidae 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., & Wijsman-Best, M. (1977). Scleractinia of Eastern Australia.  Part 2, Families Faviidae, Trachyphyllidae. Australian Institute of Marine Science Monograph Series, III, 233.

Suggested Reading – Other Topics

  • Foster, A. B., Johnson, K. G., & Schultz, L. L. (1988). Allometric shape change and heterochrony in the freeliving coral Trachyphyllia bilobata (Duncan). Coral Reefs, 7(1), 37-44.