Tabellaria flocculosa

(Roth) Kützing 1844      Category: Araphid
BASIONYM: Conferva flocculosa Roth 1797

Tabellaria fenestrata


Tabularia fasciculata

LM scalebar = 10 µm = 80 pixels.


Contributor: Dawn DeColibus - June 2013
Length Range: 11-83 µm
Width Range: 3.2-8.8 µm
Striae in 10 µm: 13-19


Valves are linear with an inflation in the center of the valve and capitate to slightly capitate apices. The medial inflation of the valve is wider than the apices. Striae are usually parallel, but can be slightly radiate in the medial inflation. The striae are alternate. The axial area is narrow and linear. The central area is small and rhombic. Short marginal spines are present, although the spines are difficult to see in LM. The girdle bands are closed and have large septa. In addition to large septa, much smaller rudimentary septa can be observed in the girdle bands. The number of girdle bands varies per frustule; there can be any number from two to many. One rimoportula per valve is present, usually located near or within the central area. Cells are joined in colonies, usually in zig-zag or stellate formations. Frustules are rectangular in girdle view.

This taxon is highly variable in its morphology and its variability has been treated differently by different authors. Knudson (1952) described four varieties, based primarily on colony morphology. Koppen (1975), who many have followed for US taxonomy, separated T. flocculosa into three ‘strains’, based on size range and autecology. In Diatoms of the US, I include strains III, IIIp, and IV together in the concept of T. flocculosa.

For those interested in following Koppen (1975), strain III is distinguished by ends that are not distinctly capitate. The medial inflation widens gradually, usually to a width of 4.5-6.5 µm. Valves of strain III can be as long as 83 µm. Cells of strain III grow attached to surfaces, usually on rocks or macrophytes.

Strain IIIp appears nearly identical to strain III, except that valves can reach up to 122µm in length. Strain IIIp valves can also be slightly twisted. In addition, strain IIIp is planktonic.

Strain IV has capitate ends and the medial inflation widens abruptly to 7.5-8.5 µm. Strain IV is smaller than strain III, with a maximum length of 39 µm.

Original Description

Basionym: Conferva flocculosa
Author: Roth 1797
Length Range: µm
Striae in 10 µm:

Original Description

Original Images

Cite This Page:
DeColibus, D. (2013). Tabellaria flocculosa. In Diatoms of the United States. Retrieved October 27, 2016, from

Species: Tabellaria flocculosa

Contributor: Dawn DeColibus

Reviewer: Rex Lowe


Knudson, B.M. . (1952). The diatom genus Tabellaria. I. Taxonomy and Morphology. Annals of Botany, new series16 (63): 421-440.

Knudson, B.M. . (1953). The diatom genus Tabellaria. II. Taxonomy and morphology of the plankton varieties. Annals of Botany 17 (65): 131-155 .

Koppen, J.D. (1975). A morphological and taxonomic consideration of Tabellaria (Bacillariophyceae) from the northcentral United States. Journal of Phycology 11: 236-244.

Krammer, K. and Lange-Bertalot, H. (1991). Bacillariophyceae. 3. Teil: Centrales, Fragilariaceae, Eunotiaceae. In Ettl, H., Gerloff, J., Heynig, H. & Mollenhauer, D. (Eds.). Süsswasserflora von Mitteleuropa. 2(3): 1-576. Gustav Fisher Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany.

Kützing, F.T. (1844). Die kieselschaligen Bacillarien oder Diatomeen. Nordhausen. 152 pp., 30 pls.

Roth, A.W. . (1797). Catalecta Botanica (Quibus plantae novae et minus cognitae describuntur atque illustrantur). Fasc. 1. Lipseae. 244 pp.

Links & ID's

Index Nominum Algarum (INA)

Original INA

California Academy of Sciences (CAS)

Tabellaria flocculosa CAS

NCBI Genbank Taxonomy

Tabellaria flocculosa NCBI

North American Diatom Ecological Database (NADED)

NADED ID: 67004

Autecology Discussion

Tabellaria flocculosa var. flocculosa tends to grow in freshwater, slightly acidic to acidic waters, though it can have a wide pH tolerance (Hustedt 1930, Niels 1981, Round, Crawford and Mann 1990, Krammer and Lange-Bertalot 1991). It is commonly found in peat bogs, running water, or lakes. T. flocculosa is cosmopolitan and more common in northern latitudes (temperate to arctic regions). Strains III and IV grow attached to hard substrates or vegetation, while Strain IIIp is planktonic. Strains III and IV grow in zig-zag colonies of indeterminate length. Strain IIIp can grow in zig-zag or stellate colonies, but usually no more than 5 cells per colony.

EMAP Assessment

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) western Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) study was completed during the years 2000-2004 (see citations at bottom of this page). Over 1200 streams and rivers in 12 western states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming) were selected for sampling based on a stratified randomized design. This type of design insures that ecological resources are sampled in proportion to their actual geographical presence. Stratified randomized design also allows for estimates of stream length with a known confidence in several “condition classes” (good or least-disturbed, intermediately-disturbed, and poor or most-disturbed) for biotic condition, chemistry and habitat.

EMAP Distribution

Tabellaria flocculosa

EMAP Response Plots

Tabellaria flocculosa

EMAP citations

Results are published in:

Johnson, T., Hermann, K., Spaulding, S., Beyea, B., Theel, C., Sada, R., Bollman, W., Bowman, J., Larsen, A., Vining, K., Ostermiller, J., Petersen, D. Hargett, E. and Zumberge, J. (2009). An ecological assessment of USEPA Region 8 streams and rivers. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 Report, 178 p.

Stoddard, J. L., Peck, D. V., Olsen, A. R., Larsen, D. P., Van Sickle, J., Hawkins, C. P., Hughes, R. M., Whittier, T. R., Lomnicky, G. A., Herlihy, A. T., Kaufman, P. R., Peterson, S. A., Ringold, P. L., Paulsen, S. G., and Blair, R. (2005). Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) western streams and rivers statistical summary. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Report 620/R-05/006, 1,762 p.

Stoddard, J. L., Peck, D. V., Paulsen, S. G., Van Sickle, J., Hawkins, C. P., Herlihy, A. T., Hughes, R. M., Kaufman, P. R., Larsen, D. P., Lomnicky, G. A., Olsen, A. R., Peterson, S. A., Ringold, P. L., and Whittier, T. R. (2005). An ecological assessment of western streams and rivers. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Report 620/R-05/005, 49 p.