information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Worm anemone (Scolanthus callimorphus)

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



The worm anemone has an elongated column measuring up to 14 cm in length and 12 mm in diameter. The tentacles are relatively stout, very long and up to 16 in number. Tentacles are transparent becoming strongly tinted with brown in the outer half, spotted with opaque white or cream, the spots becoming larger towards the tips where they tend to form transverse bars. The disc is pale buff or cream, with a well-defined pattern of rich, often purplish-brown.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Weymouth Bay and western Ireland.

Global distribution



Burrows in sand or gravel, often in the vicinity of Zostera beds, from around low water mark on the shore to shallow water.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Elongated column.
  • Scapus small, surface and periderm permanently creased or wrinkled, even in extension.
  • Tentacles 16, arranged in two cycles, 5 + 11, those of the inner cycle being distinctly shorter.
  • Scapulus rich purplish-brown, variably patterned with opaque white or cream, periderm earthy or rusty brown.

Additional information

Previously been confused with Edwardsia claparedii but the characters of both species have recently been redefined (Manuel, 1981).

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:


  1. 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.]

  2. Manuel, R.L., 1988. British Anthozoa. London: Academic Press.[Synopses of the British Fauna, no. 18.]


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

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biogeographic Information System),  2021. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2021-12-04


This review can be cited as:

Wilson, E. 2005. Scolanthus callimorphus Worm 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 04-12-2021]. Available from:

Last Updated: 27/05/2005