Metridium farcimen

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Plumose anemone
White-plumed anemone (metridium farcimen) MB.jpg
White-plumed anemone (Metridium farcimen), offshore of Pacific Grove, California
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Anthozoa
Order: Actiniaria
Family: Metridiidae
Genus: Metridium
Species: M. farcimen
Binomial name
Metridium farcimen
(Tilesius, 1809) [1]
See taxonomy

Metridium farcimen is a species of sea anemone in the family Metridiidae. It is commonly known as the giant plumose anemone or white-plumed anemone. It is found on the western seaboard of the United States and Canada and in deep water sites especially where the water is slow moving.[2]


In 1990, Fautin et al. examined the validity of the name Metridium giganteum. A further study in 2000 concluded that Actinia priapus; Tilesius, 1809, Actinia farcimen; Brandt, 1835, and Isometridium rickettsi; Carlgren, 1949 were all synonyms of Metridium giganteum. Of these, Actinia farcimen was the name first published. It is, however, a junior homonym so the valid name for the species is Metridium farcimen; (Brandt, 1835).[3][4] The World Register of Marine Species attributes the name Metridium farcimen to (Tilesius, 1809) and gives Isometridium rickettsi; Carlgren, 1949, as the only synonym.[1]


Metridium farcimen is a large sea anemone, occasionally reaching a height of one metre (39 in) when fully extended.[2] More usually it is 50 cm (20 in) or less in height but is very variable in shape. It can retract its tentacles and form a ball up to 25 cm (10 in) in diameter. The column is slender, smooth and studded with acontia. These are openings through which thread-like nematocysts from inside the body wall can protrude. There are no tubercles and the column is topped by a parapet. The oral disc is lobed and deeply convoluted at the edge and bears well over 100 fine, short, tapering tentacles. The colour is generally opaque white, but orange, salmon and brown specimens sometimes occur.[2] Large specimens have been seen to have long, thick, fighting tentacles, used to drive away other anemones trying to settle too close.[5] In large colonies that all emanate from one individual by cloning, individuals on the edge of the colony may have several of these fighting tentacles on their lips which they use to repel other, non-clonal anemones.[6] Metridium farcimen might be confused with Metridium senile which occupies the same habitat and has a similar colour and form, but that species seldom exceeds 10 cm (4 in) in height, has fewer than 100 tentacles and has an unlobed oral disc.[2]


Metridium farcimen is found on the western seaboard of the United States and Canada. Its range extends from Alaska southwards to California. It is at its most common in Puget Sound and around Vancouver Island.[2] It is found in the sublittoral zone on rocks, mollusc shells, pilings, docks and other man-made structures and even in polluted waters.[5] It is also found at great depths, near hydrothermal vents, cold water seeps and decomposing whale carcases on the seabed.[1]


Metridium farcimen is a carnivore. It captures small invertebrates, zooplankton and other food particles with the nematocysts on its tentacles and thrusts them into the mouth in the centre of its oral disc. Large anemones have few predators but smaller specimens are eaten by the starfish, Pisaster spp., and by various nudibranchs. The starfish, Dermasterias imbricata, has been observed feeding on larger anemones in Puget Sound.[6][7]

Reproduction takes place with the liberation of eggs and sperm from the gonads embedded in the body wall which are then ejected through the mouth. Fertilised eggs develop into planula larvae. After several moults, these settle and metamorphose into polyps. Does not replicate asexually, occurring as solitary individuals or as congregations of genetically distinct individuals (Bucklin, 1987a).

Metridium farcimen is a long lived species.[2] A plumose anemone in this genus is reported to have lived for nearly 100 years in an aquarium, and even after that time, the cause of death was equipment failure rather than old age.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Metridium farcimen - (Tilesius, 1809) World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Metridium giganteum; Fautin, Bucklin, and Hand, 1989 WallaWalla. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  3. ^ Fautin, Daphne G., Hand, Cadet (2000). "Metridium farcimen, the valid name of a common North Pacific sea anemone (Cnidaria: Actiniaria: Acontiaria)". Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 113 (4): 1151–1161. Retrieved 2011-11-24. 
  4. ^ Metridium giganteum Fautin, Bucklin and Hand, 1990 ITIS. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  5. ^ a b Metridium farcimen (Brandt, 1835) Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  6. ^ a b Metridium farcimen Race Rocks. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  7. ^ Metridium giganteum Evergreen Natural History Database. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  8. ^ Metridium Anemones Emerald Sea Photography. Retrieved 2011-11-24.