Aggregating anemone

Anthopleura elegantissima





Anthopleura elegantissima are found between Alaska all the way down to Baja California (1). A. elegantissima are relatively small, with crowns up to 8 cm in diameter. Their columns are green or white and often covered with shells, while their tentacles have been observed in a variety of colors; green, purple, white, and even blue (1).  A. elegantissima are colonial, with individuals of an aggregations having the same coloration and sex (2). This is because A. elegantissima reproduce asexually via lateral binary fussion meaning colonies started off as a single polyp. Additionally, aggregates are spatially separated from each other with individuals of different aggregates stinging each other if they come into physical contact (2). Recent studies have found a sister species; the larger, non colonial Anthopleura sola (3).


(1) "Anthopleura (Anemones)." University of California, Santa Cruz - Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.

(2) Francis, Lisbeth. "Clone Specific Segregation In The Sea Anemone Anthopleura-Elegantissima." The Biological Bulletin144, no. 1 (February 1973): 64-72. doi:10.2307/1540147.

(3) Pearse, Vicki, and Lisbeth Francis. "Anthopleura sola, a new species, solitary sibling species to the aggregating sea anemone, A. elegantissima (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Actiniaria: Actiniidae)." Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 3rd ser., 113, no. 3 (November 1, 2000): 596-608.

(Photograph) Lovell and Libby Langstroth © California Academy of Sciences



  • rocky intertidal