Anthopleura xanthogrammica = Giant Green Sea Anemone


Vergleich: Siehe: Mollusca:


[Cynthia Shepard]

The giant green anemone is one of the most stunning tide pool animals of the Pacific coast. Color of the animal varies depending upon exposure to sunlight. Individuals living in high shade may be almost grey in color whereas those living in areas exposed to bright sunlight are a striking brilliant fluorescent green. Coloring of individuals ranges from jade green, olive green to bluish green. The oral disk, uniform in color and lacking radiating lines, is broad and flat, and surrounded by haphazardly arranged, short and thick tentacles of similar color. At the center of the oral disk there is a prominent single orifice which serves the animal for both intake of food and elimination of waste. The exterior of the anemone’s column is a dark green to  brownish color and is velvet-looking in texture. Compound irregular tubercles, called verrucae, arranged randomly on the columns surface produce the velvet-like effect. The verrucae have adhesive properties and the anemone’s column is often covered with bits of gravel and shells which protect against dehydration. Size can be up to 30 cm (12 inches) in diameter across the crown, and up to 30 cm in length.

Subjective descriptions of these sea creatures liken them to flowers, particularly because of the beautifully colored and tentacle-fringed oral disk. Anthozoa, the taxonomic class which includes sea anemones and corals, is a name derived from the Greek meaning ‘flower animals.’ The animal’s common name, anemone, is also the Latin name for a genus of flowering plants in the Ranunculaceae family. The flower-like appearance of giant green anemones is only suggested when the animal’s oral disk is open and exposed. When the animal contracts, thereby withdrawing its oral disk and tentacles to assume a defensive posture, or when it is prostrated due to exposure to air, all descriptions of beauty cease, and instead most observers describe them as looking ugly or even repulsive.


This sea anemone produces greenish fluorescent pigments that give it its striking color and that afford protection to the single-celled green algae species (the algae themselves are a light brownish color) which live within their gastrodermal tissues. Giant green sea anemones might therefore be more truly termed ‘plant-animals.’ There is a true symbiotic relationship that exists between the anemone and the algae (usually zoochlorellae by itself or with

zooxanthellae). The algae, tiny dinoflagellates, gain protection, carbon dioxide and reliable exposure to sunlight from the anemone, and in return the anemone receives oxygen, a byproduct of the algae’s photosynthesis, and trace amounts of nourishment in the form of glycerol, glucose and alanine.

Studies have shown that giant green anemones living in low light conditions, in which their algae partners languish, will lose weight faster under poor food conditions than algae living in good light situations.

Feeding and Prey Items:

Heartily carnivorous yet non-motile, this animal is a patient feeder. When comfortably submerged in its salt water environment the giant green anemone opens up its oral disk and tentacles and simply waits for its meal opportunities to arise. The anemone has access only to prey that swim, crawl, fall or otherwise come in contact with its tentacles. Prey for the giant green anemone usually consists of detached mussels, crabs, sea urchins and small fishes but this species will also consume small crustaceans and a variety of other organisms that contact its tentacles.

Common sea stars, Pisaster ochraceus, are a major predator of mussels and in the course of their own feeding they often dislodge mussels which become a more available prey for any nearby waiting anemones. It is speculated that anemones actually rely on the predation activities of sea stars to loosen and dislodge mussels for their own consumption. Not to be considered solely an opportunistic feeder, this anemone can of course also capture its own prey.

Once within range, mechanoreceptors alert the anemone to the vibration of its prey so that upon tactile stimulation stinging nematocysts are discharged from the tentacles. Hundreds to thousands of nematocysts bombard the prey, injecting a paralyzing toxin. The stunned prey is then captured as the anemone’s tentacles bend and close, ultimately transferring it to the gastrovascular cavity via the mouth at the center of the anemone’s oral disk.

Prey is swallowed whole (fins, spines, shells and all). The gastrovascular cavity functions both in digestion and the circulation of nutrients around the body. Undigested material – shell, cartilage etc., are excreted back out of the cavity via the animal’s single orifice.


Some species of nudibranchs (e.g. Aealidia papillasa) and snails (e.g. Eitanium tinctum) feed on the anemone’s tentacles. Also, some types of sea stars including the leather star, Dermasterias imbricata, sea snails and sea spiders (e.g. Pycnaganum stearnsi) feed on the column.

Low tide & Desiccation:

Many sea anemones reside in tide pools where there is always at least some salt water, but they can also survive in surge channels and other locations which expose them to air at lower tides.

They do so by withdrawing their tentacles and contracting their columns. This adaptation reduces the surface area exposed to evaporation, and is effective for only certain degrees of exposure.

Reproduction & Life Span:

While many anemone species reproduce both sexually and asexually, Anthopleura xanthogrammica practices sexual reproduction only. They are broadcast spawners. Sexual reproduction takes place in the late spring and early summer. Males release sperm which stimulates the females to release eggs. Eggs and sperm are ejected via the single orifice (mouth/anus) of the anemone. Giant green anemones rely on ocean currents and water flow for

the mixture and dispersal of gametes. Potential dispersal is over long distances. Adrift at sea, those eggs which are fertilized develop into planula larvae (flat shaped, ciliated, free swimming embryo). Each planula eventually settles and gives rise to a single new anemone. Adult size is usually attained at 14-15 months of age. Anemones are known anecdotally to live to be “monstrously old.” Certainly an age of 30 years is common, and since mortality of adults is very low, the estimated ages of 500 plus years postulated by some researchers seems possible.

Structure, Anatomical & Physiological Features:

Giant green anemones are animals of typical polyp structure, and have radial symmetry based on the oral-aboral axis. Their basic structure is that of a cylindrical sac. They are attached to the ocean bottom by an adhesive foot, and have a column shaped body ending in an oral disk.

Simple tubular tentacles are arranged in ringlets around the oral disk. Between the external epidermis and the internal gastrodermis cell layers, the body wall is comprised of a gelatinous matrix called the mesoglea. Some connective tissue and muscle fibres are contained within the mesoglea.

Ciliated grooves on the oral disk allow water currents to enter the anemone’s coelenteric cavity, and cilia throughout increase this flow, creating a hydrostatic skeleton which supports the anemone in an upright columnar position. Deflation of the anemone’s body is muscularly controlled but inflation of the hydrostatic skeleton is not.

The pedal disk or foot at their base allows the animal attach to rocks or other hard substrate.

Change of location is possible by slow repositioning of the foot, but most anemone movement involves only changes in their body shape and not changes in location. Body movement is achieved through muscular contractions, and when disturbed by a predator or other aggressor the anemone contracts, withdrawing its tentacles and oral disk. The giant green anemone has a more prominent sphincter muscle than many near relatives.

Anemones are the simplest animals to have nerve cells arranged in a nerve net, a primitive nervous system without centralization or a true brain.

This primitive nervous system is limited in scope, but does allow for mechanical reaction to stimulation. Anemones are also the simplest

animal to have sense organs which include statocysts, organs for equilibrium, and ocelli, photosensitive organs.

Their gastrovascular cavity has a single opening that serves as both mouth and anus, and the animal has no excretory system. Digestive enzymes secreted by the gastrodermal cells lining the gastrovascular cavity promote extracellular digestion. To complete digestion the gastrodermal

cells phagocytize the partially digested food particles and therefore digestion is then completed within the cells.

Gas exchange, absorption of oxygen and elimination wastes including carbon dioxide and ammonia, is accomplished at a cellular level in the gastrodermis and epidermis. There are no specialized organs or body surfaces for gas exchange or the elimination of wastes.

Anemone tentacles are laden with cnidoblasts, the specialized stinging cells which produce nematocysts. Cnidoblasts consist of a toxin-filled vesicle and an external sensitive hair that connects to an inner filament. When the external hair is stimulated chemically or mechanically, it triggers explosion of the cnidoblast cell and the propulsion of the toxin-laden inner filament.

These tiny weapons burst out at a velocity of 2 meters per second and at 40,000 times gravity.

Prey articles can be stung by hundreds or even thousands of individual nematocysts at a time.

The toxin is a mix of compounds including neurotoxins that serve to paralyze prey and effectively repel some predators. Some research suggests that the nemoatocysts and the bursting of the cnidoblast cells themselves create a suction action which also helps in the capture of the prey item.

Several sea anemone toxins have been isolated and studied by man. One of these toxins derived from the giant green anemone, a polypeptide chain known as Anthopleurin-B, is a potent peptide heart stimulant. Other anemone proteins are also isolated and known as effective sodium channel inhibitory toxins.

Proving of Anthopleura xanthogrammica the giant green (sea) anemone. The anemone family of invertebrates named the Cyndarians formerly Coelenterata.x (Gr. for hollow intestine) have a single body cavity providing digestive, excretory and respiratory functions.

When they are exposed to air for a reasonable time period, they adapt by withdrawing their tentacles and contracting their columns, which

reduces the surface area exposed to evaporation.

This idea of withdrawal is seen in different ways in the proving, for instance one prover said, “I feel at a much lower level as a person. My thinking, emotions and intuitiveness is not coming to the surface.

Another prover reported this feeling: Insulated from others on outside, in own world on inside, numbed, a wall between”. This wall between thinking and feeling or sensing and no senses was expressed elsewhere:

“I like to sense, feel and be 100% where I am, and now that's taken away (by a numbness taking over part of his brain), there's no way you can be”.


Follows happened on our trituration weekend:

C1 and C2: a marked unwillingness or lack of ability to communicate and to connect with other people. We were in a dull trance, as though floating in our own inner world completely disconnected from the world outside. We had a strong desire to be alone. We felt tiredness, weakness and a lack of energy along with confusion about time and location. In general, it was a gentle state, in which we surrendered to a dull nothingness.

There was fear of sharp and pointed objects; even the rectangular corners of a house seemed to be painfully threatening. We stumbled when walking and had difficulty writing, due to awkwardness in the use of our limbs.

The lack of connection between the participants in the group was so extreme, that even in the break everybody did their own thing. There was little communication, which is very unusual for that kind of an event.

Feelings of sadness and loneliness came with the lack of connection.

Even though the energy felt very soft and gentle most of the time, there was at times a strong aggressiveness present. There were visions of fire, a rocket starting, and a cannon with a human inside as cannonball, being attacked with arrows and spears and even the desire to hurt somebody. These feelings demonstrated a strong presence of aggressive impulses within this mostly gentle energy. These polarities of gentleness and aggression also lacked connection.                           

C3: the mental level of the process, usually yields some clarity. Not so in this trituration. The brain fag was complete, our mental and intellectual abilities gone. There was no energy, mental dullness and even an aversion to talk at all. It felt like being alone on a hot summer day, absolutely bored and the sun draining what energy was left. We had the desire to be still, not to move, even to stop breathing.

C4: finally brought resolution. In this level we experienced the extremes brought together. Aggression and self-surrender were no longer contradictions. Love and sexual aggression felt perfectly in harmony; water and fire seemed not to exclude each other anymore. The lack of connection and sleepiness were gone. Heat and sun were comforting rather than draining. “I can be a flower child in a graceful dance and in the next moment be a warrior ready to kill. It is all one dance in perfect beauty and selfless innocence.”  This was an expression of the final harmony we experienced.


The Giant Green Sea Anemone can help us to connect opposite extremes of a polarity, to integrate the fire into the water, which before seemed to be impossible. In this harmonious state we can bring the masculine spark, the fire, the aggressiveness into a feminine space of surrender and beauty.

The two energies, which seem to exclude each other, are connected, the masculine now supporting the feminine. The feminine without the spark of aggressiveness can get drained, loses its vitality, its energy. The masculine without the feminine can end up in destructiveness. Together they create a sparkling beauty, which is at the same time gentle and ready to fight.

Overall it is a feminine energy with the willingness to use its masculine hunter/warrior energy at any time.

Surrendering only to the dance of the waters and waves, to the mesmerizing and soft rhythm of the tides, the breath of the ocean, can cost us our stamina and vigour. If the waters of emotions within us get stuck or rise up in chaotic turmoil, we would have a hard time coping. We would either collapse energetically or lose contact with others and withdraw. Both happened in this trituration. The energy of the Giant Green Sea Anemone helps us to integrate the ability to fight to save our presence in the world.

I highly recommend reading Cynthia Shepard’s introduction to the proving The biology of this animal, particularly the mechanism of shooting nematocysts like poisonous arrows into the body of its prey, sheds light on many of the experiences of the trituration. None of the participants knew about these things before C3.


According to our experiences in the trituration, the patient who would require this remedy, might look like this:

He/she runs a more feminine energy, being very much affected by what is going on around her, from other people’s words or actions. They would respond to stress with the desire to be alone, with withdrawal and some outbursts of anger. Anger and gentleness would be very much disconnected, the inner disconnectedness with themselves being reflected in the outside disconnectedness from other people, from the “real” world. They might have a hard time coping with what is asked of them in their daily life. This would result in an energetically drained state, a collapse of vital energy, resulting at first in sleepiness, tiredness, lack of interest, and later in all kind of physical problems i.e. increased appetite, leading to overweight etc.

The Giant Green Sea Anemone helps to integrate fire energy into the predominant feminine flow and gentleness, thus giving it tension, not the tense rigidity of apprehension but the relaxed ability to “shoot” at any time. This is possible, even requires one to be “out of one’s ,” because thinking about fighting would make us tighten up. Yet this creature teaches us to be completely in tune with the rhythm of life, to be completely relaxed in the moment, with the fire inside awake, making absolute presence and vigilance possible, clear awareness of what is going on and the readiness to react instantaneously and unmistakeably. Anthopleura could be a deep remedy following an acute prescription of Staph.

The content of the previous paragraph are merely ideas that have to be proven in our homeopathic practice. I would appreciate it if homeopaths would document their experiences with this remedy over the next year or two. Cynthia Shepard offered to collect Anthopleura-cases. Please, if you have any practical experiences, bring them on paper and send them to Cynthia, so in due time they could be offered to our homeopathic community.



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