Gem anemone (Aulactinia verrucosa)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Base up to 25 mm in diameter and broader than column. Column narrow and cylindrical, up to 50 mm tall, and covered with small wart-like protuberances (verrucae). Up to 48 tentacles present, in cycles of 6, reaching up to 15 mm in length. Column grey or pink. Verrucae mostly grey but 6 principal rows are usually white. Tentacles transparent and mottled green, grey or pink in colour.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Aulactinia verrucosa is a southern species reaching its northern limit in the British Isles where it is most common on south and west shores. Present on all Irish coasts. Recorded at a few locations in south-west Scotland and Shetland.

Global distribution

Present in south-west Europe and the Mediterranean.


Found on the shore in localities exposed to strong wave action but also in sheltered places. Typically found in crevices in shallow water and in rock pools among Corallina. Also found attached to the bedrock beneath the layer of sand or gravel which often accumulates on the bottom of pools.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Verrucae prominent and arranged in up to 48 vertical rows.
  • No acrorhagi present, but verrucae extend on to the parapet.

Additional information

Aulactinia verrucosa closes tightly when disturbed assuming a hemispherical shape resembling the denuded test of Echinus. It is similar to Anthopleura rubripunctata, which is often larger (up to 70 mm tall) and is covered with verrucae that are often red.

Listed by

- none -


  1. Campbell, A.C., 1982. The Hamlyn guide to the flora and fauna of the Mediterranean Sea. London: Hamlyn.

  2. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  3. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  4. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  5. Hiscock, K., Southward, A., Tittley, I., Jory, A. & Hawkins, S., 2001. The impact of climate change on subtidal and intertidal benthic species in Scotland. Scottish National Heritage Research, Survey and Monitoring Report , no. 182., Edinburgh: Scottish National Heritage

  6. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  7. Manuel, R.L., 1988. British Anthozoa. Synopses of the British Fauna (New Series) (ed. D.M. Kermack & R.S.K. Barnes). The Linnean Society of London [Synopses of the British Fauna No. 18.]. DOI


  1. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. Ulster Museum Marine Surveys of Northern Ireland Coastal Waters. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  2. Cofnod – North Wales Environmental Information Service, 2018. Miscellaneous records held on the Cofnod database. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  3. Fenwick, 2018. Aphotomarine. Occurrence dataset Accessed via on 2018-10-01

  4. Isle of Wight Local Records Centre, 2017. IOW Natural History & Archaeological Society Marine Invertebrate Records 1853- 2011. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-27.

  5. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2018. Isle of Man historical wildlife records 1995 to 1999. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  6. National Trust, 2017. National Trust Species Records. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  7. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  8. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-06-25

  9. Outer Hebrides Biological Recording, 2018. Invertebrates (except insects), Outer Hebrides. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.


This review can be cited as:

Skewes, M. 2007. Aulactinia verrucosa Gem anemone. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 25-06-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 08/06/2007