Cactus Tree Alga (Caulerpa cupressoides) – The Complete Guide

Cactus Tree Alga Featured Image

Caulerpa cupressoides, also known as Cactus Tree Alga, is a type of green seaweed that belongs to the Caulerpaceae family.

It grows in many parts of the world and is eaten by different marine cultures because of its salty and pungent taste.

How Does Cactus Tree Alga Look Like?

Cactus Tree Alga has runners that are covered by sand, which grow into thick stalks.

These stalks split into big, upright branches with rows of short, thick branchlets on them.

The plant can be of different lengths, from 2 to 25 centimeters (0.8 to 9.8 inches), and can have a tall, thin shape or a short, bushy shape.

It grows well in shallow, protected areas with sandy bottoms.

Where Can You Find Cactus Tree Alga?

Cactus Tree Alga is found in many parts of the world.

In the Americas, it grows between Florida and Brazil, and on most of the Caribbean islands.

In Africa, it’s found on both coasts, as far south as South Africa, and on many islands in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.

It’s also found in many parts of Asia, and in Australia, it grows in Queensland and along the coast of Western Australia.

What Is the History and Classification of Cactus Tree Alga?

This species was first described by Carl Adolph Agardh in 1817. The name comes from Latin and means “cypress-like.”

There are several variations of this species, including:

  • Caulerpa cupressoides var. cupressoides,
  • Caulerpa cupressoides var. elegans,
  • Caulerpa cupressoides var. flabellata,
  • Caulerpa cupressoides var. lycopodium, and
  • Caulerpa cupressoides var. mamillosa.

Why Are Scientists Interested in Cactus Tree Alga?

Biomedical Potential

Cactus Tree Alga has chemicals that protect it from being eaten by fish.

These chemicals are being studied to see if they can be used in new medicines for things like viruses, bacteria, cancer, the immune system, weight loss, heart health, liver health, and blood fats.

Sulfated Polysaccharides

These are special chemicals found in one type of Caulerpa cupressoides, called var. flabellata.

They have been found to help with blood clotting, protect cells from damage, and boost the immune system.

More research is needed to see how they can be used in medicine.


These are proteins found in seaweed like Caulerpa cupressoides var. lycopodium. They can help with pain and inflammation.

Scientists are studying them as a possible new way to treat pain since other drugs can have side effects or not work well for some people.

In studies with mice and rats, lectins from Cactus Tree Alga were shown to help with pain and inflammation.

They seem to work by blocking certain chemicals in the body that cause pain and swelling.

The lectins did not cause any bad side effects in the animals, so they might be safe to study further for use in people.

You can check out what this plant looks like over here.

Cactus Tree Alga Characteristics

Care Level:Easy
Growth Rate:Slow
Nutrient Uptake:Fair
Required Lighting:Moderate High
Required Water Flow:Moderate
Is Palatable?No
Maximum Size:8 in (20.3 cm)

Scientific Classification

Scientific Name:Caulerpa cupressoides
Also Known As:Cactus Tree Alga
Conservation Status:Unknown

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