Proliferating Anemone

Proliferating Anemone (Epiactis prolifera) as seen in our Coastal Waters exhibit.

The Proliferating Anemone has a short body with radiating white lines on the oral disc and longitudinal grooves on the column. The base is usually larger in diameter than the column. The animal’s color is highly variable, including gray, green, brown, red or blue. Often the animal has juvenile anemones attached to the base. This anemone has a unique sex life. Young adults are almost all functional females; as they mature they become simultaneous hermaphrodites (having both male and female gonads at the same time, as opposed to being first one sex, then developing into another) capable of fertilizing themselves and others. The anemone got its name from a misunderstanding of this reproductive cycle. When specimens were first observed with juveniles attached to the base, the young were thought to have been produced by asexual budding - hence the name “proliferating.” When starved, Proliferating Anemones will ingest young anemones that have become detached from the parent’s base; however, these are normally regurgitated unharmed, even after several hours in the gut.

Range & Habitat 

The Proliferating Anemone ranges from southern Alaska to southern California. They are common on and under rocks, on large algae and among eelgrass. They can be found from the middle tide zone to 30 feet (9 m) in depth.

Conservation Status