A cushion star (Hippasteria phrygiana)

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



The cushion star, Hippasteria phrygiana, is small five-armed starfish. Like all starfish, it has a star-shaped body with five equal length arms originating at a central disc. The lower surface of the central disc bears the mouth. A deep furrow runs from the mouth to the end of each arm. In each furrow are two rows of tube feet. Like similar starfish species, Hippasteria phrygiana, has prominent marginal plates and papulae on the upper surface only.

Hippasteria phrygiana has a broad, solid body which can reach up to 20 cm in diameter and moderately long arms. It can be distinguished from similar species by having blunt, knob-like spines and white granules on the upper body plates. It is reddish-brown in colour.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found off the Shetlands and the northern coasts of Scotland, Cullercoats and Hampshire.

Global distribution

Hippasteria phrygiana is widespread in the North Atlantic, but is also known to occur in New Zealand and southeastern Australia.


Hippasteria phrygiana is a sublittoral benthic species occuring from a depth of 20 m down to 850 m in depth.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Round marginal plates.
  • Papulae on upper surface only.
  • Pedicellariae present underneath but short.
  • Two rows of tube feet with suckers.
  • Smooth edge between the upper and lower surfaces.
  • Knob-like spines and white granules on the upper surface .

Additional information

No text entered

Listed by

- none -


  1. Clark, H.E.S. & McKnight, D.G., 1999. The marine fauna of New Zealand: Echinodermata: Asteroidea (sea stars). Order Valvatida. NIWA Biodiversity Memoir, 117, 1-269.

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

  3. 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.]

  4. Mortensen, T.H., 1927. Handbook of the echinoderms of the British Isles. London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press.

  5. Picton, B.E., 1993. A field guide to the shallow-water echinoderms of the British Isles. London: Immel Publishing Ltd.

  6. Southward, E.C. & Campbell, A.C., 2006. Echinoderms. The Linnean Society of London. Avon: The Bath Press. [Synopses of the British Fauna No. 56.]

  7. WoRMS 2007. The World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS). http://www.marinespecies.org, 2008-10-31


  1. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2024-06-15


This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Hippasteria phrygiana A cushion star. 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 15-06-2024]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/130

Last Updated: 27/03/2008