Urticina crassicornis (O. F. Muller, 1776)

Common name(s): Christmas anemone, Painted Urticina, Painted Tealia, Painted anemone, Red and green anemone, Northern red anemone, Dahlia anemone, Mottled anemone, Thick-petaled rose anemone (in E. N America)

Synonyms:  Tealia crassicornis
Phylum Cnidaria
 Class Anthozoa
  Subclass Zoantharia
   Order Actiniaria
    Suborder Nynantheae
     Family Actiniidae
Urticina crassicornis at low tide, Sares Head, WA.  Diameter approximately 10 cm.
(Photo by: Dave Cowles (at night, under a boulder), Sept. 2005)
Description:  This large, common intertidal anemone has small tubercles on the column wall but no acontia.  The tubercles are not white and usually do not accumulate material like gravel or shell.  The column is variable in color, often being blotched red and green but may be greenish, olive, brownish, or red.  The tentacles are usually cross-banded and end with a blunt tip.  The oral disk has no radiating white stripes.  Diameter to about 20 cm and height to 30 cm.  Frequently seen stretched out and drooping from the rock at low tide.

How to Distinguish from Similar Species:  This is the most common intertidal Urticina found around Rosario. Urticina piscivora has no transverse bands on the tentacles and the column is usually a solid bright red, plus it is subtidal.  Several other Urticina species either have white tubercles or accumulate bits of sand, gravel, and shell on the tubercles.  The most similar species, found in similar habitats, is Urticina coriacea, which has a solid red column and accumulates sand on its tubercles. Cribrinopsis fernaldi has similar colors but the bands on its tentacles are narrow and zigzag and there are radiating red lines on the oral disk.

Geographical Range:  Alaska to S CA (uncommon in CA).  Also in Europe and eastern Canada, Maine.  Circumpolar.

Depth Range:  Low intertidal to 30 m.

Habitat:  Often below or hanging from the underside of boulders.

Biology/Natural History:  Feeds on crabs, urchins, mussels, gastropods, chitons, barnacles, and fish.  May feed on stranded jellyfish.  The candy-striped shrimp Lebbeus grandimanus is a commensal, immune to the sting.  Sexes are separate.  In CA and the East Coast fertilization is internal, by sperm which drift in the currents.  Eggs are .5 to .7 mm in diameter.  The female releases the young as small but fully formed juveniles.  In Puget Sound both eggs and sperm are released into the water, and the settling larvae settle preferentially on soft tubeworm tubes.  Young grow to 0.3 cm diameter the first year, may mature by 1-1.5 cm diameter.  Live 60-80 years.  Young are seldom seen.

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Dichotomous Keys:
  Flora and Fairbanks, 1966
  Kozloff 1987, 1996
  Smith and Carlton, 1975 (as Tealia crassicornis)

General References:
  Brusca and Brusca, 1978 (as Tealia crassicornis)
  Gotshall, 1994
  Harbo, 1999
  Kozloff, 1993
  McConnaughey and McConnaughey, 1985 (as Tealia crassicornis)
  Morris et al., 1980 (as Tealia crassicornis)
  Niesen, 1997
  O'Clair and O'Clair, 1998
  Ricketts et al., 1985 (as Tealia crassicornis)
  Sept, 1999

Scientific Articles:

Web sites:

General Notes and Observations:  Locations, abundances, unusual behaviors:
These photos show some of the color variations possible in this species.

This individual has its mouth wide open at low tide, showing some of the inside of the pharynx and/or mesenteries.  The tentacles are hidden underneath the mouth tissue.

An underwater photo by Kirt Onthank, June 2007

Authors and Editors of Page:
Dave Cowles (2005):  Created original page