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This article is about genus of clams. For other uses, see Mercenaria (disambiguation).

LittleNeck clams USDA96c1862.jpg
Hard clams Mercenaria mercenaria
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Order: Veneroida
Family: Veneridae
Genus: Mercenaria
Schumacher, 1817

See text.

Mercenaria is a genus of edible saltwater clams, marine bivalve molluscs in the family Veneridae, the Venus clams.

The genus Mercenaria includes the quahogs, Mercenaria mercenaria, the northern quahog or hard clam, and M. campechiensis, the southern quahog. These two species commonly hybridise where their ranges overlap. Mercenaria mercenaria is further subdivided in the marketplace and thence in the kitchen by size: the largest being the quahog or chowder clam, then smaller cherrystones, and smallest little necks; some markets also differentiate top necks which are intermediate in size between cherrystones and little necks. The smaller clams are eaten raw throughout New England, New York, and New Jersey; the larger clams are more suited for cooking. All are delicious.

Other species within the genus include the venus clam M. stimpsoni found in north Pacific waters.

All these species were formerly placed in the related genus Venus. Several other species are known only from fossils.


The World Register of Marine Species accepts the following extant species as valid:[1]

Fossil species[edit]

  • M. corrugata
  • M. druidi
  • M. ochlockoneensis
  • M. permagna
  • M. rileyi
  • M. tridacnoides


  1. ^ Mercenaria Schumacher, 1817 World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2011-09-30.

Miscellaneous information[edit]

Left valve interior of Mercenaria mercenaria.

The Mercenaria is the State Shell of Rhode Island.