Caulerpa taxifolia

Green alga

Nonnative to FloridaFederal Noxious Weed List Invasive

Species Overview

Native to: tropical waters of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The invasive strain is thought to have originated in Australia.

The invasive strain of this species was discovered in the aquarium trade in the 1980s and was accidentally introduced into the Mediterranean Sea from a public aquarium. Due to the history of invasiveness in the Mediterranean it was added to the US Federal Noxious Weed List in 1999. In 2000, it was found in and successfully eradicated from southern California waters. While not currently found in Florida, Early Detection and Rapid Response will be critical if it were to arrive and escape cultivation. 

Species Characteristics

Family: Caulerpaceae

Habit: Siphonalean alga

Fronds: Primary fronds, 5-40 cm, grow directly on the stolons at regularly spaced intervals; fronds may be quite short or even absent in shallower water (leaving only the stolons), becoming longer in deeper water in low light conditions. Branching fronds grow from the primary fronds. pinnules are up to 1 cm long; number 4 to 7 per cm along each side of the frond axis; are usually upcurved, tapering at the ends; some pinnules are split in two at the ends (bifurcate); pinnule spacing and length depend on light availability (Meinesz, 1995).

Distribution in Florida: Not present


In the Mediterranean it spread into thousands of hectares filling the water column with hundreds of tons of plant biomass and outcompeting native seagrasses and seaweeds. It is protected from sea urchins, fish and other herbivores by its toxicity.

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

Do not purchase and never release aquarium water into water bodies.


Where possible, lowering the salinity of the water is effective. Manual removal of all plants and fragments.


None known.


Liquid chlorine was used to control California populations.

Learn more about this species

USDA Plant Database

Invasive Species Compendium

Global Invasive Species Database