The taxonomic distinctiveness of the crustose red algal genus Polystrata Heydrich (Peyssonneliaceae) is confirmed on the basis of morphological and molecular data. The vegetative and reproductive morphology of the type species Polystrata dura Heydrich is newly described. Polystrata thalli are thick multi-layered crusts, each crust of which is composed of a mesothallus, a superior perithallus, and an inferior perithallus. P. dura is characterized by a poorly developed inferior perithallus consisting of single-celled perithallial filaments and each layer of multi-layered crusts being closely adherent to the parental layer. This Polystrata species is identical to Peyssonnelia species, the type genus of the Peyssonneliaceae in the morphology of sexual reproductive organs: a carpogonial branch and an auxiliary cell branch are formed laterally on respective nemathecial filaments; the gonimoblasts are developed from connecting filaments and auxiliary cells; the spermatangia are produced in male and female nemathecia; and the spermatangial filament produces a series of one to four paired spermatangia that form a whorl surrounding each central cell (the Peyssonnelia dubyi-type development). Polystrata fosliei (Weber-van Bosse) Denizot is clearly distinguished from P. dura by an inferior perithallus as well-developed as the superior perithallus, and each layer of multi-layered crusts being loosely adherent to the parental layer. In our small subunit rDNA trees of the Peyssonneliaceae, these Polystrata species formed a clade with low to medium supports, although the phylogenetic position of Polystrata was unresolved in this family. Therefore, the thallus structure of Polystrata may be regarded as an important taxonomic character at the genus rank.