Baked bean ascidian (Dendrodoa grossularia)

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



Dendrodoa grossularia is a solitary, reddish-brown sea squirt, up to 2 cm long and 1.5 cm in diameter, which occurs singly or aggregated in dense, bumpy clusters. It is firm to the touch and the shape of individuals varies from flattened and rounded on a spreading base when solitary, to upright, elongated and cylindrical when aggregated. The two short but conspicuous siphons are square or four-lobed in outline when partly contracted, but round and flared when actively pumping.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Widely distributed, and locally common, around British and Irish coasts. Not recorded in northeast Scotland, the coast south of the Humber to the Stour and the south coast of Ireland.

Global distribution

Generally distributed from the Arctic, round the northeast coast of America, throughout northwest Europe and Britain, including the Scilly Isles and the Brittany peninsula.


Found on the lower shore and sublittorally to a depth of 600 m on a variety of substrata including rock, shell, other ascidians and algae. It is particularly abundant and dominates rocks in two contrasting situations: in surge gullies and caves exposed to severe wave action and in locations entirely sheltered from wave action where tidal streams are moderate to strong.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • A solitary species occurring singly or in dense, bumpy clusters reddish-brown.
  • 2 short, conspicuous siphons.

Additional information

Also known as the gooseberry sea squirt. This species is similar in external appearance to Distomus variolus, Stolonica socialis, and Polycarpa scuba. The internal anatomy is important in distinguishing between species. The siphons of Dendrodoa grossularia are more conspicuous than those of Distomus variolosus.

Listed by

- none -


  1. Bruce, J.R., Colman, J.S. & Jones, N.S., 1963. Marine fauna of the Isle of Man. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

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

  3. Gibson, R., Hextall, B. & Rogers, A., 2001. Photographic guide to the sea and seashore life of Britain and north-west Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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

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

  6. Millar, R.H., 1970. British Ascidians London: Academic Press.[Synopses of the British Fauna, no. 1.]


  1. Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre, 2017. BRERC species records recorded over 15 years ago. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

  2. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. IBIS Project Data. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-25.

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

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

  5. Environmental Records Information Centre North East, 2018. ERIC NE Combined dataset to 2017. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-38

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

  7. Kent Wildlife Trust, 2018. Biological survey of the intertidal chalk reefs between Folkestone Warren and Kingsdown, Kent 2009-2011. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  8. Kent Wildlife Trust, 2018. Kent Wildlife Trust Shoresearch Intertidal Survey 2004 onwards. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  9. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2018. Isle of Man historical wildlife records 1990 to 1994. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

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

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

  12. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-05-28

  13. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Marine and other Aquatic Invertebrates (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02.

  14. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. Dr Mary Gillham Archive Project. Occurance dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02


This review can be cited as:

Avant, P. 2008. Dendrodoa grossularia Baked bean ascidian. 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 28-05-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 29/04/2008