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

Dustbin-lid jellyfish (Rhizostoma pulmo)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.
Only coastal and marine records shown



Rhizostoma pulmo has a solid appearance. It varies in colour from whitish pale or yellow to shades of green, blue, pink or brown. The umbrella margin is divided into a number of semi-circular lobe like extensions (marginal velar lappets). Beneath the bell is a large manubrium, consisting of a short pillar-like basal stem, followed by sixteen, three winged epaulets with frilled mouth openings. It then divides into four pairs of oral arms that consist of three winged portions, followed by three winged elongated terminal appendages (Russell, 1970). Mature males have blue gonads whereas, ripe females are reddish brown. When exposed to air their nematocyst warts give the umbrella surface a matt like appearance. The large crustacean Hyperia galba can be found throughout the body of the jellyfish and more commonly in its gastric or gonad pouches.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland


Global distribution




Depth range


Identifying features

  • Thick dome shaped bell, that becomes thinner around its margin.
  • The bell grows up to 90 cm in diameter.
  • It has no marginal tentacles.
  • It has four pairs of very large oral arms on its undersurface.

Additional information

This species was previously been known as Rhizostoma octopus which was regarded by some authors as a variety of Rhizostoma pulmo rather than a distinct species (Russell, 1970). Russell (1970) stated that the only valid character by which they could be distinguished was by examining the number of velar lappets on the umbrella margin. However, Rhizostoma pulmo is now the accepted name.

It is sporadic in occurrence from year to year but occurs in 'swarms' in summer and autumn. It is believed that some specimens probably live in deep water during winter.

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. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017

  4. O'Connor, B. & McGrath, D., 1978. The occurrence of the scyphozoan Rhizostoma octopus (L.) around the Irish coast in 1976. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 19, 261-263.

  5. Russell, F.S., 1970. The medusae of the British Isles. Vol II - Pelagic Scyphozoa, with a supplement to the first volume on hydromedusae. Cambridge University Press


This review can be cited as:

Sabatini, M. 2004. Rhizostoma pulmo Dustbin-lid jellyfish. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 14-08-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 18/03/2004