species: Pavona cactus in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Pavona cactus

©Andy Lewis: A small colony of Pavona cactus at Watson's Bay showing the typical convoluted fronds

©Andy Lewis: Macro image of Pavona cactus showing the typical form of the corallites

©Andy Lewis: Pavona cactus at Watson's Bay
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Cnidaria
Class Hexacorallia
Order Scleractinia
Family Agariciidae
Genus Pavona
Species Pavona cactus
Status vulnerable



Distinguishing features

A species that forms colonies comprising thin, contorted bifacial plates. In sheltered areas, the colony may form large mono-specific stands more than 8m in diameter. Corallites are fine, and arranged in irregular lines parallel to the frond margins. Colonies are usually brown in colour.


  • Size data has not been obtained.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Sheltered back reef and lagoonal habitats.

Can be found in most sheltered reef habitats around Lizard Island.


This species reproduces by both sexual spawning and asexual fragmentation, with the latter mechanism very important in certain locations, with genetically identical clones sometimes seperated by up to 80m. A range of different colony morphologies are recognised, ranging from compact mounds to open, fragile columns.

Web resources


  • Ayre, D.J. and B.L. Willis (1988). Population structure in the coral Pavona cactus: clonal genotypes show little phenotypic plasticity. Marine Biology, 99: 495-505. LIRS catalog number 10108.
  • Domm, S.B. and W. Deas (1976). Corals of the Great Barrier Reef Ure Smith, Sydney. LIRS catalog number 5.
  • Willis, B.L. and D.J. Ayre (1985). Asexual reproduction and genetic determination of growth form in the coral Pavona cactus: biochemical, genetic and immunogenic evidence, Oecologia, 65(4): 516-525.