Some three cells of Staurastrum habeebense, with stelloid chloroplasts.

Dimensions (L x B): ca 40 x 25 µm



Desmid of the month
January 2004

Staurastrum habeebense

When encountering S. habeebense most phycologists will not identify it immediately as a Staurastrum species, rather they will associate it with the genus Cosmarium. However, in top view the cell appears to be pluriradiate, reason to class it in the (artificial) genus Staurastrum (*).

In its ecology S. habeebense is pretty peculiar for it occurs at sites that may dry out severely and for a rather long time. In addition to that it is able to flourish at relatively high temperatures. Up to now S. habeebense is only known from a few places all over the world. Being described for the first time from Canada, in 1949, it was found a couple of times in Great Britain in the 80’s and 90’s, in habitats like flat roofs and garden ornaments. In 2000 it was encountered for the first time in continental Europe, to wit a concrete fountain basin in Bratislava (Coesel & Hindák, 2003). On last-mentioned site S. habeebense even constituted almost a monoculture. Although the Bratislava find is one of the few formal global records, most likely the species in question is not at all that rare. When examining suitable habitats in a more systematic way, probably more reports of S. habeebense can be expected (**).

Staurastrum habeebense in top view

Cell in top view showing pluriradiate symmetry, among a number of cells in (oblique) frontal view.
Note primary cell walls shed off bij dividing cells.

* The transfer of the species under discussion to the genus Actinotaenium by Brook & Williamson (1990) is not justified, see Coesel & Hindák (2003).

Mass development of S. habeebense as encountered in a concrete fountain basin in Bratislava (Slovakia).


Brook, A.J. & D.B. Williamson, 1990. Actinotaenium habeebense (Irénée Marie) nov. comb., a rare, drought-resistant desmid. — British phycological Journal 25: 321-327.

Coesel, P.F.M. & F. Hindák, 2003. Staurastrum habeebense Irénée-Marie, an intriguing, drought-resistant desmid recorded for the first time from continental Europe. — Biologia, Bratislava 58: 661-663.

(**) See News April 2005