The starburst anemone looks very similar to aggregating anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima, and formerly was simply identified as a solitary form of A. elegantissima. Pearse and Francis identified it as a separate species by molecular techniques in 2000. It grows larger than Anthopleura elegantissima usually does (averaging 12 cm but up to 25 cm wide),
This species of anemone reproduces sexually.
The column is a pale greyish-green color and is twice as long as its width when extended. The color is partly caused by symbiotic Zooxanthellae in the gastrodermal layer. The column has numerous sticky verrucae or tubercles arranged in longitudinal rows to which gravel and shell fragments adhere. The oral disc is radially striped and has five rings of thick, pointed feeding tentacles. These vary in color and often have contrasting tips. The central mouth has large, frilly lips.
Distribution and habitat
The starburst anemone is found in the north east Pacific Ocean. In the United States it occurs between central California and Baja California. It lives in the lower intertidal zone in rocky habitats, often in the shelter of cracks and crevices. When the tide is out it is often concealed by shell fragments and other particles that adhere to it.
Fight for a place
When the feeding tentacles of neighboring starburst anemones touch each other, they inflate their fighting tentacles (called acrorhagi) and fight each other until one moves. The white tips of acrorhagi is a concentration of stinging cells and when touching an enemy, these slough off and continue stinging the enemy again and again. The aggregating anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima) also possesses acrorhagi, which are used to fight their clone war.
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