Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Purple Tree Gorgonian

Eunicea sp.

This is a thick-bodied gorgonian that takes on a fuzzy appearance when the polyps of the coral are expanded. The base is purple in color and the branches grow vertically. Typically grows up to 6” in height. The Purple Tree Gorgonian is also known as Knobby Candelabrum.

Range & Habitat


Conservation Status: Not Evaluated


In the wild – Zooxanthellae, a marine algae contained in their tissue.

Life Span

In the wild: Unknown

In human care: Unknown

Fun Facts about the Purple Tree Gorgonian

  • Like the majority of the Octocorals, Gorgonians, are colonial sessile animals. Sessile means they are anchored to the substrate, and from there they can be either erect or encrusting. Gorgonians differ from stony corals. The mass of a stony coral is primarily made up of a rigid calcareous skeleton, with living tissue growing on top. Gorgonians on the other hand are primarily composed of living tissue. .
  • The suborder Holaxonia is composed of a fibrous protein substance, known as gorgonin, which is similar to the horn material of mammals. The common names, Gorgonian, Horn Coral or Horny Coral, are derived from this substance.
  • Soft corals are always colonial and grow with eight-fold symmetry, which means their tentacles come in groups of eight, hence the Subclass name Ocotocoral.


LiveAquaria. (2022). Purple Tree Gorgonian. Retrieved February 2022.

Reeflex. (2007). Eunicea sp. 01 Tree Gorgonian. Retrieved February 2022.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. (n.d.). Corals and sea anemones (anthozoa). Retrieved February 2022.

Updated June 13, 2023
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