This species looks very similar
and formerly was simply identified as a solitary form of A.
elegantissima. Pearse and Francis
identified it as a separate
species by molecular techniques in 2000. This species grows
usually does (up to 25 cm wide), and is not normally found in contact
or even very near A. elegantissima.
gray-green to white and twice as long as wide when completely extended;
pale, variously colored tentacles
with pink, lavender, or blue tips, in 5 rings around oral disk and are
numerous, thick, and pointed. The anemone has a ring of knobs
with stinging cells just under and outside the ring of tentacles (photo).
When the anemones are not fighting the acrorhagia are usually retracted
and hard to see. The column is covered with vertical rows of
One can distinguish the species from A.
xanthogrammica by their branched verrucae,
coloration (especially colored tips of the tentacles and clearly marked
stripes on the oral disk), and the fact that their adhesive tubercles
arranged in vertical rows while those of A.
xanthogrammica are not. Most individuals
are at least 3 cm
in diameter, and average 12 cm.
Anthopleura sola Pearse and Francis,
Common name(s): Sunburst Anemone
|Acanthopleura sola at Little Corona
del Mar, CA. About 12 cm
|Photo by: Dave Cowles,
How to Distinguish from
Similar Species: : It is
similar to Anthopleura
which is all green. Anthopleura
artemisia has verrucae
on only the top 2/3 of its column and usually lives mostly buried in
elegantissima is usually smaller and usually is
found in clonal
groups rather than solitary.
Geographical Range: From
to Baja California
Depth Range: Live
in the lower intertidal zone.
intertidal areas on the outer coast.
Background color is due
in part to zooxanthellae living symbiotically in the gastrodermal
This species is found in similar situations as is Anthopleura
xanthogrammica farther north on the Pacific coast.
Dichotomous Keys: (In
all these keys this
species keys as A. elegantissima)
and Carlton, 1975
Francis, Lisbeth, 1979. Contrast between solitary
and clonal lifestyles
in the sea anemone Anthopleura elegantissima.
McFadden, C.S., R.K. Grosberg, B. B. Cameron, D. P. Karlton,
Secord, 1997. Genetic relationships within and between clonal
solitary forms of the sea anemone Anthopleura elegantissima
evidence for the existence of two species. Marine Biology
Pearse, V. and L. Francis (2000) Anthopleura
sola, a new
species, solitary sibling species to the aggregating sea anemone, A.
elegantissima (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Actiniaria: Actiniidae).
Soc Washington 113: 596-608
Smith, B.L. and D.C. Potts, 1987. Clonal and
(Anthopleura) of western North America:
and systematics. Marine Biology 94: 537-546
General Notes and
Observations: Locations, abundances, unusual behaviors, etc.:
This species has wide
variety of color variations on
the oral disk. Here are two:
Photographed at Moss Street Beach, Laguna, CA by Dave Cowles, March
2005. Diameter of the large anemone is about 15 cm.
white spots that are frequently found on the tentacles of this species.
This individual has its mouth open, and the filmy "lips" can
Photo by Dave Cowles, Little Corona del Mar, CA, March 2005
Holding the frilly lips loosely is common with A. sola, as seen
also in this individual at Laguna Beach, CA. A. xanthogrammica
is a similar sized anemone but seldom holds its lips like this.
Photo by Dave Cowles, August 2010
This species favors sheltered microhabitats. On rocks with
such as this one at Dana Point, CA, the anemones can be found in lines
along the crack.
Photo by Dave Cowles, March 2005
The crack need not even be very large. Note the row of A.
sola on this rock at Little Corona del Mar, CA.
Photo by Dave
Cowles, March 2005 Note also that the anemones
have covered themselves with bits of shell.
The column of Anthopleura sola is covered
with rows of
tubercles (verrucae), many of which attach to bits of rock or shell.
Photo by Dave Cowles at Little Corona del Mar, CA, March 2005
This photo of a closed individual at Laguna Beach, CA also
shows the verrucae pattern. Photo by Dave Cowles, 2010
This is a picture of two A elegantissima or A.
using their specialized white tentacles called acrorhagia.
Normally the acrorhagia are small and hardly visible near the base
of the normal, green tentacles.
Taken at San Simeon, CA by Dave Cowles in a tidepool.
This A. sola (about 13 cm diamter) is attacking an Aplysia
sea hare in a Dana Point, Ca tide pool. Note the ink released
the sea hare.
This is the only time I have seen this anemone species attacking a
sea hare. It appears the sea hare wandered onto the
The sea hare later died, but I did not see whether the anemone
Photo by Dave Cowles 5-99
This individual was photographed by Charles
Hollahan of Santa
Barbara Marine Biologicals
at about 3m depth off Coal Oil Point, Santa Barbara, CA in
Note the unusual blue tentacle tips.
Authors and Editors of Page:
Dave Cowles, 2005