Telesto fruticulosa Dana, 1846:632.
Remarks. Telesto fruticulosa colonies are monopodially branched and usually found in colonies of multiple branches. The daughter polyps sometimes develop into tertiary branches. The color of the coenenchyme may be orange, light red, or yellow, but may be obscured or completely encrusted by fouling organisms such as sponges and bryozoans. One encrusting sponge produced a thin veneer that was observed to be the bright red of Telesto sanguinea, a species closely resembling T. fruticulosa, such that the true color of the colony was completely obscured until preserved in ethanol. As is typical of the members of this genus in the Atlantic, there are eight longitudinal grooves present in the body wall of the primary polyps, but they are sometimes more distinct near the calyces or the base of the colony. There is a dense cluster of vertically oriented, overlapping flat rods in the base and proximal half of the polyp tentacles.
This species can be distinguished from T. sanguinea by the absence of dense rows of horizontally oriented flat rods in the distal region of the tentacles. If horizontal rods are present in the distal region they are sparse and do not reach the tip of the tentacles. The coenenchymal sclerites consist of glassy, blunt, branching bodies and some small (0.2 mm) granules that are opaque and lumpy on one side and coarsely warty and glassy on the other. Occasionally weak fusion of the sclerites is observed.
T. fruticulosa is a very common species in hardbottom habitats within the SAB. The polyps are usually expanded during the day but, unless relaxed prior to preservation, retreat into the cylindrical calyces when exposed to preservatives or disturbance.
There are numerous lots of specimens of this species in the collections of the NMNH (Smithsonian) that were collected from the shallow SAB.
Atlantic distribution: Coasts of the North Carolina,
South Carolina, Georgia and northern Florida, 7-100 m (Deichmann,
1936; Bayer 1961; NMNH collections; SERTC collection).
Figure 4. Sclerites of Telesto fruticulosa
(S2690); a, b) fused sclerites from body wall; c-e) sclerites from
body wall; f, g) anthocodial sclerites. Scale bar for a-e = 50 µm;
f, g = 20 µm).
Figure 7. Telesto fruticulosa, preserved
specimen, showing orange sclerites in proximal region of tentacle.
Figure 1. Telesto fruticulosa in situ.
Figure 2. Telesto fruticulosa
Figure 3. Telesto fruticulosa in situ, encrusted
by red sponge.
Figure 5. Telesto fruticulosa, preserved
specimen. Colony approximately 12 cm in height.
Figure 6. Telesto fruticulosa, live specimen,
showing expanded polyp and orange sclerites in proximal region of