The Cauliflower Coral (Pocillopora verrucosa) is a tropical and subtropical stony coral from the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is an animal, not a plant.
The Cauliflower Coral lives in colonies. Each colony grows into a hemispherical clump with branches and wart-like growths (called verrucae). It varies in colour, from yellow-green, pink, brown, or blue-brown.
It grows to about 30 centimetres (12 inches) across. The branches are 1-2 centimetres (0.4-0.8 inches) thick. The wart-like growths are up to half a centimeter (a quarter of an inch) high.
The Cauliflower Coral is native to the tropical and subtropical parts of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Its habitat extends from east Africa and the Red Sea to Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Hawaii, Easter Island and the western coast of Central America. It is most common in shallow waters and coral reefs.
It feeds on plankton and aquatic material. Its predators include fish, crabs, lobsters, shrimps, and starfish.
The Cauliflower Coral reproduces by fragmentation (the branches break off and re-grow on the ocean floor nearby), hermaphroditically. Each polyp is both male and female.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM