Epiactis lisbethae Fautin and Chia, 1986

Common name(s): Lisbeth's brooding anemone

Phylum Cnidaria
 Class Anthozoa
   Subclass Zoantharia (Hexacorallia)
    Order Actiniaria
     Family Actiniidae 
Epiactis lisbethae clinging to an Eisenia kelp frond on the west side of San Juan Island.  Diameter of oral disk about 4 cm.
(Photo by: Dave Cowles.  Identified with the help of Lisbeth Francis)
Description:  Like other Epiactis, this species has no acontia, its column has no tubercles, and its column is not white.  This species often has fine radiating white lines on its oral disk which reach all the way to the mouth.  Its column is reddish, greenish, purple, or orange and has fine dark lines all the way from the pedal disk to the top of the column, along the insertions of the internal mesenteries.  The stripes look similar all the way up the column, with no distinctly contrasting color occurring at the base (limbus) of the column.  It broods its young externally in a band several individuals deep, but the individuals are all of similar size (photo).  Pedal disk to 8 cm diameter.  The underside of the pedal disk (only visible when detached) has radiating orange or red lines.

How to Distinguish from Similar Species:Epiactis fernaldi has no radiating white lines on the oral disk or on the column.  The dark lines on the column of Epiactis prolifera do not continue above the middle of the column.  The lines on the oral disk of Epiactis ritteri are broad and do not approach the mouth.  Urticina crassicornis can have a similar mix of colors on the column but its tentacles have broad color bands and the colors on its column wall are broad blotches rather than fine vertical lines.

Geographical Range:  Bamfield, Vancouver Island, Canada to Coos Bay, OR

Depth Range:


Biology/Natural History:  Sexes are separate and reproduction is seasonal.  This species broods its young externally.  The brooded young appear to be all of similar age.  Red, brown, and green females usually have pink young, while orange females usually have orange young.

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Dichotomous Keys:
  Kozloff 1987, 1996

General References:
  Sept, 1999

Scientific Articles:
Fautin, Daphne G and Chia, Fu-Shiang, 1986.  Revision of sea anemone genus Epiactis (Coelenterata: Actiniaria) on the Pacific coast of North America, with descriptions of two new brooding species.  Canadian Journal of Zoology 64:8  1665-1674

Web sites:

General Notes and Observations:  Locations, abundances, unusual behaviors:

This 5 cm diameter individual is hanging from a north-facing wall on San Juan Island at low tide.
Notice how the darker lines on the mesenterial insertions run all the way up the column wall to the oral disk.
Identified by Lisbeth Francis (for whom the anemone is named)
Photo by Dave Cowles, July 2006


This mother is brooding a batch of babies on the column wall.

This individual, about 5 cm across the oral disk, is living on the wall of a tidepool near an overhanging rock at Cape Flattery.  Photo by Dave Cowles, July 2015

Mouth and oral disk
This individual, only 1 cm across the oral disk, has its oral disk wide open and is displaying its mouth. Photo by Dave Cowles, August 2018

Baby belt
The same individual (1 cm oral disk diameter) is carrying a belt of babies around its column. Note that, unlike E. prolifera, the vertical stripes on the column extend all the way to the top. Photo by Dave Cowles, August 2018

Authors and Editors of Page:
Dave Cowles (2006):  Created original page