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Marine Plants

Quick Search

Used to search for any combination of division, genus, species or life form. Searching for a given category will generate information associated with that taxon. Images of living plants and anatomical features (when available) are located to the left of the species description page.

Life Form Search

Choose the appropriate life form from the list, thumbnails images will appear of the appropriate form. From these click on the one most similar to your specimen. This takes you to more images and the detailed species description.


Traditional dichotomous keys offer a continuous chain of choices to major-group taxa. These are artificial keys based primarily on vegetative characters that are readily observed. For each major group we have provided a key to the included genera. If a genus is represented by more than one species, a key to those species is indented just below the generic designation. When keys are lengthy, a double numbering system is utilized, with each number in parentheses (following the initial number) representing the entry that led to that selection. This double numbering system enables the user to work the key backwards as well as the standard method of keying forward. Most the keys initially begin with common life-form choices or have highlighted characters within these groups. By clicking on the appropriate life-form thumbnails images will appear of the appropriate form. From these click on the one most similar to your specimen. This takes you to the detailed species description.

Species List

To generate a list of algae from the Marine Plants of Pacific Panama site, use one of the major-group checklists: Rhodophyta, Phaeophyceae, Chlorophyta or Cyanobacteria. Clicking the appropriate name in the list will generate the “species page”. Images of living plants and anatomical features (when available) appear to the left of the species name, description, habitat, distribution, type locality, classification and any additional pertinent information.


This database has been designed with the assistance of STRI’s Office of Bioinformatics. It is our intent to provide a visual database of the Marine Plants of Pacific Panama. The database attempts to include visual representations of living marine plants and where possible micrographs of anatomical and reproductive structures of each species. Only specimens that have been photographed and collected by the Marine Plants of Pacific Panama project are included in the checklists. Other specimens exist in other herbaria, but data from other sources have not yet been added to the database.


Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama kindly made available the R/V Urraca for two expeditions to the islands of Pacific Panama which accounts for all of the collections herein. The Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, Florida provided lab assistance and excellent equipment for analyzing specimens. Smithsonian Marine Science Network funded travel and partial support of the vessel through the Hunterdon and Johnson Oceanographic Research Endowments in the Office of the Under Secretary for Science, Smithsonian Institution.


This is a work in progress. While we have made every effort to correctly identify all images, some problem areas may exist. If you believe that you have identified a mistake please contact DSL at


The copyright images and information on this site agree to single not-for-profit use in lectures, lecture notes, and seminars, provided the images are not altered. Any use other than one which follows this stipulation is in breach of the copyright owner’s rights ( All other use, including all commercial use and all use in web sites, whether public or private, is subject to copyright law worldwide. Contact should be made with D.S. Littler ( for written consent prior to any such use.


We would like to especially thank Barrett L. Brooks for his invaluable assistance and help throughout the field and laboratory aspects of this and all our scientific efforts. Also special thanks to the captains and crews of the R/V Urraca who assisted in all aspects of field collecting, performing their duties with professional expertise and a friendly, congenial and gracious manner. Thanks also to Irving Bethancourt, Jennifer Dorton, Connie Gasque, and Don Hurlbert for diving and field assistance. This web-based field guide could not have been possible without Steve Paton and STRI’s Office of Bioinformatics whose suggestions significantly increased the scientific value of this data base.

How to cite

Littler, D.S. & M.M. Littler. 2010. Marine Plants of Pacific Panama. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Smithsonian Institution. Updated on January 2010.