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Frilled Anemone Metridium senile


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Frilled Anemone
credit: Stan Shebs/CCSA

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Alternate name: Plumose Anemone

Category: Jellies, Anemones and kin view all from this category

Description Metridium senile, common name the plumose anemone or frilled anemone, is a species of sea anemone in the family Metridiidae. It is found in the seas off northwest Europe and the east and west coasts of North America.

The base of Metridium senile is considerably wider than the column and is attached to rock or another substrate. The column is long, smooth and cylindrical, of a fleshy consistency with a slimy surface lubricated with mucus. There are no warts or suckers and the column is topped by a parapet and deep groove. The oral disc is broad and deeply lobed into several curving sections that overhang the column. The slender, pointed tentacles are very numerous in larger specimens though fewer and relatively longer in smaller ones. Those near the margin are crowded and short whereas further into the disc they are longer and more dispersed. The colour range of this sea anemone is large but for any one specimen the colour is uniform throughout, except for the orange-red lip surrounding the central mouth. Colours include, white, cream, pink, orange, red, grey, brown and olive-green. The tentacles are translucent but may have a white band, and some specimens have a darker column and much paler disc.

There are several distinct forms and various intermediate ones. M. senile var. dianthus is described above. It has over 1000 tentacles and exhibits a feathery appearance. It can grow to 30 cm (12 in) tall with a base diameter of 15 cm (6 in) and a similar tentacle span. M. senile var. pallidus is much smaller, seldom exceeding 2.5 cm (1 in) base diameter, and has a much less convoluted disc with fewer than 200 tentacles. It seems to be a dwarf race, becoming sexually mature while still small. There are also a number of intermediate forms.

Johannes Peter M¸ller has described the variety dianthus as "the most beautiful of all the anemones". It is indeed an impressive sight with the tentacles fully expanded, resembling a palm tree, but when retracted it can become a low, irregularly shaped, jelly-like disc of unattractive appearance. When exposed to the air by a retreating tide, it does not always retract but may hang under an overhang in a limp fashion looking like a wet glove with a single drop of water dangling at its tip.

Habitat Rocks, Piers, driftwood & pilings, Ocean or bay shallows.

Range Eastern Canada, California, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest, Western Canada, New England, Alaska.