Saturday, August 19, 2017


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Turbinaria (Dendrophyllidae)

Welcome to the 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 about an encrusting or vase-like Turbinaria, use the image browser below to identify what you saw underwater. Then choose one of the following links for further comparison with similar genus: Astreopora.

Vital Statistics

  • 11 species
  • Coral Finder p. 17, 18, 20
  • COTW – Vol 2 p. 388-404


Currently found in the Indo-Pacific.

ID Tips

Turbinaria colonies can grow in a range of plating forms: encrusting, vases or convoluted fronds.  Encrusting forms may have additional hillocky up growths.  Turbinaria does grow in most reef environments but is more common on subtropical and inshore reefs.

The corallites are rounded and may be tubular or immersed (forming depressions in the colony surface), and in some species may be inclined towards the edge of the colony.  However environmental conditions may cause large differences in skeletal structure, making species level identification problematic.  The distinctive feature of Turbinaria is the smooth colony surface (coenosteum); costae are lacking.  Some species may have tentacles extended day and night.

The smooth-sided tubular corallites and neat septa are characteristic of the Dendrophyllidae.

(slide show with photos of smooth coenosteum)

Similar Genera

The Coral Finder lists Turbinaria in one key group with Astreopora being a potential candidate for confusion.

Similar genera to encrusting and vase-like forms of Turbinaria (Coral Finder p17-18)

When comparing Turbinaria and Astreopora, which can have similar cone-like corallites, look at the colony surface, which on Turbinaria looks much smoother in comparison. Astreopora has a beaded surface. Septa are better developed in Turbinaria but may not be visible underwater.

Encrusting and vase-like Turbinaria

Similar genus: Astreopora


Some Turbinaria species are very well adapted to the high sediment loads often characteristic of inshore fringing reefs.  Experiments have shown they can maintain growth and photosynthetic production even when exposed to sediment in a range of different hydrodynamic regimes.  This genus is therefore able to dominate in areas where other corals may become stressed.  Sofonia & Anthony (2008) listed under Suggested Reading, provide full details.

Taxonomic Changes

Learning Resources

Coral Hub

  • Dendrophylliidae family page


Suggested Reading

  • 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.
  • Sofonia, J. J., & Anthony, K. R. N. (2008). High-sediment tolerance in the reef coral Turbinaria mesenterina from the inner Great Barrier Reef lagoon (Australia). Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, 78(4), 748-752.
  • 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.