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Aulactinia veratra (Family Actiniidae)

Green Snakelocks Anemone


Aulactinia veratra is found along the temperate Australian coastline and much of New Zealand. (QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA)


The Green Snakelocks Anemone is, as the name suggests, green in colour, but it may also be brown or reddish brown. It is a small anemone growing up to 35 mm across and 20 mm high with up to 150 smooth, blunt-tipped tentacles that grow to about 40 mm in length. The circular base provides a strong attachment. Bumps and suckers run in longitudinal rows down the entire length of the column and help to anchor the animal to the substrate.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Green Snakelocks Anemone is found in dense aggregations often in water filled crevices, rock pools or the undersides of ledges near the low-tide level. It is frequently found on temperate Australian coasts, and often occurs with the Speckled Anemone, Oulactis muscosa. Sexes are presumed separate, because only individuals containing female gonads have been recorded.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

There are no known threats to the Green Snakelocks Anemone. Occurring close to the coastline, this anemone may be vulnerable to coastal development, but its cryptic nature makes it difficult to monitor.

Other Comments:

Also called the Long-Tentacled Anemone, This species was originally assigned to the genus Actinia, and has commonly been referred to as Cnidopus verater. Recent taxonomic study, however, has assigned the name Aulactinia veratra to this species.

Note that the Family classification of this species of Actiniidae is tentative. No family level classification is given on the Hexacoral database or in Edmands and Fautin (1991). The family classification is therefore tentatively assigned, on the basis of that by Ottaway (1975) for Cnidopus veratra.

Aulactinia veratra may be confused with Isactinia olivacea and possibly Isanemonia australis. The two latter species have smooth columns, with I. olivacea also having adhesive verrucae in longitudinal rows.

Further Reading:

Edgar, G.J. (1997) Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books, Kew. 544 pp.

Edmands, S. & Fautin, D.G. (1991) Redescription of Aulactinia veratra n. comb. (=Cnidopus veratra) (Coelenterata: Actiniaria) from Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 15: 59 – 68.

Fautin, D.G. (2003) Hexacorallians of the World.

Ottaway, J.R. (1975) Review of Actinia, Isactinia, and Cnidopus (Cnidaria: Anthozoa) in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 9: 53 – 61.

Thomas, I.M. & Shepherd, S.A. (1982) Sea anemones (Orders Actiniaria, Zoanthidea and Corallimorpharia) In, Shepherd, S.A. & Thomas, I.M. (ed.) Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia Part I. Handbook of the flora and fauna of South Australia, Government Printer, South Australia, pp. 161 – 169.


Text & map by Carden Wallace & Zoe Richards, Museum of Tropical Queensland.

Photograph by Karen Gowlett-Holmes

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