Intertidal anemones

The genus Anthopleura contains a number of anemone species that are common in Southern California. Recently, some specimens have come to light that don‘t seem to fit well into the well-known species of the area. We are very interested in photographs and specimens of the species in this genus to help us understand the local diversity.

Anthopleura artemisia Solitary; column lower 1/3 smooth, white or pink (no symbionts); disk may be pink, orange, green; tentacles solid or banded, red, white, black, blue, gray, brown, green, bands usually white; ring of acrorhagia below tentacles; only top 2/3 of column w/ verrucae; usually buried in sand but base attached to rock; Alaska - S. CA
Photos: L-R Dave Cowles; Alison Young; Donna Pomeroy; Adam C. BAd Wound; Robin Agarwall

Anthopleura elegantissima Clonal; to 8 cm; stripes on disk; column pale gray-white to white; tentacles variously colored, tips usually pink (also lavender, blue), in 5 rings; ring of acrorhagia below tentacles; entire column w/ vertical rows adhesive branched verrucae; Alaska - Baja Photos: Dave Cowles (1-3), Brenna Green (4), Al Kordesh (5), Rosala (6)

Anthopleura sola Solitary; 3-25 cm; stripes on disk; column pale gray-green to white; tentacles variously colored, w/ pink, lavender, or blue tips, in 5 rings; ring of acrorhagia below tentacles; entire column w/ vertical rows adhesive branched verrucae; commonly w/ lips open; C. CA - Baja.
Photos: Dave Cowles (1-3), Liam O'Brian (4)

Anthopleura xanthogrammica Solitary but can be dense; to 30 cm; solid green or grayish-blue to greenish-blue disk (may have faint stripes, 2nd photo); column green to dark green & brown; tentacles green, blue, white, tips never pink, no marks or bands; compound, irregularly placed verrucae on whole column; lips normally closed; Alaska-Panama, rare south of C. CA.
Photos: Dave Cowles (1-3), Stephen Bentsen

Anthopleura? identified as A. elegantissima Very distinctive color pattern; appears to be clonal. Crystal Cove, OC; Grenada, San Mateo Co.; Santa Cruz;
Photos: Chris Mallory, Crystal Cove

Anthopleura? Solitary? Base 2.5-3 cm; disk grayish-brown, pinkish-brown column, base darker w/ white markings; tentacles reddish-brown or grayish-brown; lobed margin below tentacles (acrorhagi?); widely-separated sparse low-profile red or reddish-brown non-adhesive verruca in straight rows; Crystal Cove & Dana Point, OC, Torrey Pines & Bird Rock, SD. Thought to be similar in appearance to Indo-West Pacific A. buddemeieri by Meg Daly (see comparison below)
Photos: B.J. Stacey (L), Desiree Stallings (rest)

Anthopleura buddemeieri (left image, supplied for comparison), and Anthopleura? middle and right images Appearance similar w/ widely-separated straight rows of sparse reddish non-adhesive verrucae and lobed margin below tentacles. Differ in overall color (pinkish w/ large bright pink verrucae vs. grayish-brown w/ reddish- or brown verrucae), color of basal margin (same as body vs. darker or same but with whitish elongated markings), and color of tentacular bases (same as body vs. whitish spots). Photo A. buddemeieri by Ria Tan; photos Anthopleura? by Desiree Stallings

Photos by Dave Cowles from
Photos by Ria Tan from
All other photos from