Common Name(s): Climbing knobby sea mat
Colony Form: Encrusting, usually with irregular swellings or meatball-like lobes. Polyps >1 cm, with long tentacles, appearing as dense fur or hair when extended, making colony appear much thicker than when polyps are retracted.
Apertures: Pinhole-sized, each often on a low swelling.
Mucus: Absent, but with slippery surface.
Color: Purple, purplish gray, or with some tan; polyps brown, grayish- or greenish brown.
Sclerites: Large tuberculate spindles or 3-rayed sclerites.
Habitat: Typically encrusting on other octocorals in most shallow reef environments.
Distribution: Bahamas, South Florida, and Caribbean Sea.
Notes: Briareum asbestinum forms one to several upright, unbranched rods connected by a common basal mat. Erythropodium caribaeorum is beige or tan, with smaller polyps, and encrusts on hard substrates.
References: Bayer (1961), Cairns (1977), Sanchez & Wirshing (2005).
Similar Species: Briareum asbestinum; Erythropodium caribaeorum