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

Green-leaf worm (Eulalia viridis)

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



A long, dorsally flattened worm (between 5 -15 cm in length) with up to 200 segments. The eversible proboscis is long and cylindrical and covered in small, rounded papillae. The head has two large eyes, 5 antennae and 4 pairs of tentacular cirri, the longest of which may reach back to about the 7th segment. The paddles on the parapods are flattened, elongated and narrow to a point. The worm is bright to mid-green in colour.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found around all British and Irish coasts.

Global distribution



The green-leaf worm is found widely in crevices, barnacle and mussel beds and on kelp holdfasts from the intertidal to the shallow sublittoral. It may also be found subtidally on hard rocky bottoms and in shell gravel.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • A long, many segmented, dorsally flattened polychaete, between 5 -15 cm long and 2.5 cm in width, excluding the parapodia.
  • Colour varies from light yellowish green to bright green.
  • The prostomium has 2 pairs of short antennae and a fifth, median antenna in front of the dark red eyes.
  • Immediately behind the prostomium there are four pairs of tentacles that may reach back to segment 7.
  • Behind the head the dorsal cirri of each parapod are flattened and pointed. They project out from the body to form a fringe down each side of the body.

Additional information

It breeds in July and August. It is thought to produce the green gelatinous egg masses found on the shore, usually attached to seaweed, although there is no evidence to corroborate this assumption (Fish & Fish, 1996).

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:


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

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

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

  4. 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.]

  5. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line]

  6. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin.

  7. Pleijel, F. & Dales, R.P., 1991. Polychaetes: British Phyllodocoideans, Typhloscolecoideans and Tomopteroideans. Oegstgeest, The Netherlands: U.B.S./Dr. W. Backhuys. [Synopsis of the British Fauna No. 45.]


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

  4. Fife Nature Records Centre, 2018. St Andrews BioBlitz 2014. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-27.

  5. Fife Nature Records Centre, 2018. St Andrews BioBlitz 2015. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-09-27.

  6. 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.

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

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

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

  10. North East Scotland Biological Records Centre, 2017. NE Scotland other invertebrate records 1800-2010. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-01.

  11. OBIS (Ocean Biogeographic Information System),  2022. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2022-05-23

  12. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Worms (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02.

  13. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, 2018. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Shoresearch. Occurrence dataset: accessed via on 2018-10-02.


This review can be cited as:

Pizzolla, P.F 2008. Eulalia viridis Green-leaf worm. 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 23-05-2022]. Available from:

Last Updated: 29/04/2008