Common Name(s): Orange muricea, Orange spiny sea rod
Colony Form: Tall, bushy; branching is lateral in lower part of colony, often pinnate towards top of colony; to 46 cm tall.
Branches: End branches long, ascending, 4-5 mm in diameter; irregularly pinnate but not appearing plumose.
Apertures: Crowded, with sharply pointed lower lip directed upward toward branch tip.
Color: Yellow, yellowish-brown, orange or amber; dries a distinctive orange-brown.
Sclerites: Outer layer and calices: spindles ranging from slender with fine thorns, 0.5 mm long, to stout with strong spines on one side, 0.8 mm long. Inner layer: spinose spindles near branch tips; stellate capstans with profuse complex sculpturing lower in colony, 0.2-0.3 mm.
Habitat: Shallow to moderate depths (3-22 m) attached to hard substrates exposed or buried in sand, and patch reefs.
Distribution: South Florida (from West Palm Beach southward) and Gulf Coast, Bahamas, and Caribbean Sea.
Notes: Muricea laxa is similar but is bluish gray with thinner branches, less crowded calices that have a more projecting lower lip, and occurs in deeper water. Muricea muricata branches chiefly in one plane with short terminal branches.
References: Bayer (1961), Cairns (1977), Sanchez & Wirshing (2005).
Similar Species: Muricea muricata