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DescriptionA short thallus with a stout midrib arises from a discoid holdfast, widening as it branches into flattened red-brown or red-purple fronds to a height of 20 cm. The fronds are thin and membranous, around 2.5 cm in width and may have a slight blue iridescence under water. Repeated branching gives it a bushy tangled appearance with the branches tapering to rounded tips. Morphology is variable and blades can be either erect or prostrate and broadly-wedged or strap-shaped. Margins may be smooth, undulating, denticulate or hooked. frequently with a blue iridescence underwater.Cryptopleura ramosa var. uncinata has characteristic hooked margins. The marginal hooks distinguish it from the similar Acrosorium venulosum that has both terminal and marginal hooks. When fan-shaped, Cryptopleura ramosa may closely resemble Erythroglossum laciniatum but may be distinguished by the margins and venation. Polyneura bonnemaisonii, another similar species, differs from Cryptopleaura ramosa in the more scattered distribution of the tetrasporangia and spiny outer wall to the cystocarps. Polyneura bonnemaisonii infrequently displays prostate blades, and the haptera attaching them to the substrate, are marginal as opposed to the peg-like haptera seen in Cryptopleura ramosa.