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DescriptionA fragile, coralline alga often confused with Lithothamnion corallioides. Its form is very variable but commonly resembles stag's horns of irregular diameter. Older specimens become somewhat erect with nodular branches and are reminiscent of red 'coral'. Unattached plants may reach about 7 cm in diameter with branches up to 6 mm in diameter and mauvish brown in colour. The surface can be smooth or flaky.Maerl is a generic name for certain coralline algae that grow unattached on the sea bed. No crustose plants of Phymatolithon calcareum have been recorded from the British Isles.