Halophila stipulacea is a dioecious perennial herbaceous plant with a terete rhizome and erect stems that reach up to 2-3 x 0.5 mm long. Leaves are of 1 pair on each erect stem; the blade is 2.5-5.5 x 0.6-1 cm, glabrous, oblong-linear, with rounded apex, cuneate base and serrulate margins. Male flowers are with 7–15 mm long pedicel and ovate tepals, with a prominent central vein; while female flowers are sessile. The fruit is ellipsoid, with a beak up to 6 mm long and 30–40 seeds.
In the Mediterranean Sea, H. stipulacea occurs from Egypt to southern Italy, and it may have been introduced through the Suez Canal.
In the Caribbean Sea, H. stipulacea has recently been collected in the West Indies on the islands of Grenada, Dominica, and St. Lucia and may have been introduced (Ruiz and Ballantine 2004, Willette and Ambrose 2009).
Distribution in Egypt
South Red Sea Coast, North Red Sea Coast, Arabian Desert, Galala Desert, Mountainous Southern Sinai, Isthmic Desert, North Sinai, Mareotic Sector.
Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, India.
Height: 2-3 x 0.5 mm
Habitat and Ecology
This species is a prolific seeder and is fast-growing, and therefore it can expand rapidly from small populations. It is ephemeral with rapid turn-over (Malm 2006) and is well adapted to high levels of disturbance. Halophila stipulacea copes well with hypersalinity (up to 60 psu) and is euryhaline in nature (Lipkin 1975). In the Arabian Gulf, it tolerates extreme conditions with salinity varying from 38-70 psu and temperatures of 10-39C (inshore) and 19-33C (offshore).
Halophila stipulacae is an important food source for dugongs in the Indian Ocean, and also for green turtles throughout its range.
Sheltered shallow sea-water, sandy and muddy shores.
Life History and Behavior
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
This species is found in the Marrawah Marine Biosphere Reserve (2007) in the UAE that is primarily set up to protect the Dugong.
It is protected in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) within its range.
In United Arab Emirates, the implementation of the beginning of an effective management program that would start with baseline mapping, followed by periodic monitoring and mapping efforts. This species is protected under the UNEP Regional Seas Programme, GCC (Gulf Cooperative Council), GAOCMAO (Gulf Area Oil Companies Mutual Aid Organisation) and other agreements which relate to environmental management and pollution controls. It is considered in the most recent management plan of the Mombosa Marine National Park and Reserve, and integrated coastal zone management initiatives in Tanzania by IUCN, Zanzibar (Menai Bay Conservation Project), Mafia Marine Park (by WWF) and Kinondoni Coastal Area Management Programme (Green and Short 2003).