Dendrodoris limbata

Dendrodoris limbata (Cuvier, 1804)

Dendrodoris limbata (adult) @ Costa Brava (Spain) by Miquel Pontes













































Dendrodoris limbata  (Cuvier, 1804)

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 139518).

  • Dendrodoris languida Pruvot-Fol, 1951 
  • Doris limbata Cuvier, 1804 (original)
  • Doris lugubris Ehrenberg, 1831 
  • Doris nigricans Otto, 1823 
  • Doris rappi Cantraine, 1841 
  • Doris setigera Rapp, 1827 
  • Doris sismondae Vérany, 1846 
  • Doris virescens Risso, 1826 

It is an appreciable size doridacean, as the larger specimens can reach up to 7 cm in length, despite there’s a report of a 26cm specimen from Croatia (Prkic, 2015). Like other species of the same genus, the body is soft and devoid of spicules. The body is flattened and the edges of the mantle are significantly wider than the foot, except on the rear side when the animal is moving. This species has an extremely variable coloration, which has led to much confusion in the literature and to the description of many species currently considered synonyms. The color of the specimens can be yellowish, greenish, different shades of brown and even black. They can also be of uniform color or have irregular patches of brown, green, red or gray tones. The edges of the mantle are often wavy and always have a yellow band that clearly identifies the species, separating it from D. grandiflora, which has a very large mantle edge, striated and never with yellow border. The underside of the mantle can also have stains like the ones on the dorsum. The rhinophores are retractable and have the same color as the body but somewhat darker and have a lighter coloured or whitish apex; the rhinophore base is broad, semitransparent while the laminar portion on the tip has numerous lamellae arranged very tightly. Rhinophoric sheath is almost nonexistent, has a smooth top and slightly lighter coloured than the rest of the dorsum. The gill consists of 6 tripinnate leaves of the same color of the body, but also somewhat darker, with the tips of the branches coloured whitish. Gill leaves are retractable and when fully extended can cover the entire back of the animal. The foot is very large and does not have buccal palps ahead; it usually has stains of the same type than the dorsum.

This species is often common under stones from very shallow water down to 30-40 m. It has been cited living on the sponge Suberites domuncula (McDonald & Nybakken, 2001) but it is doubtful whether it really feeds on the sponge or on the epibiotic microorganisms that thrive on it, which are sucked with the mouth; like other Dendrodoridians, D.limbata has no radula. The spawn is formed by a scalloped coiled orange ribbon about 10 mm high; the whole spawn can be 3-4 cm in diameter. The orange coloured eggs measure 350 microns approximately, and they are set in transparent capsules. The hatching veligers have a very short life in the plankton and in less than 48 hours they undergo a metamorphosis and become benthic juveniles of about 0.5 mm (Valdes et al. 1996).


  • Dendrodoris. From Greek word “dendros” (tree) and “Doris”, a sea nymph in Greek mythology.
  • Limbata. From Latin “limbus”, border, band.

This species, described by Cuvier in 1804, is eminently Mediterranean but has also been cited in the coasts of Portugal and Strait of Gibraltar (Cervera et al. 2004). There are some reports of the species in the Atlantic coasts of France and the British Isles (SeaSlug Forum). In the Iberian Peninsula it has been cited in all coastal areas from Portugal to Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. In the Catalan coast it has been observed in numerous locations like Llançà, Port de la Selva, Es Caials, Cadaqués, L’Escala, Illes Medes, Cala Aiguafreda, La Planassa (Blanes), Llavaneres anf Garraf, among others.

Known georeferenced records of the species: Dendrodoris limbata
: GROC 2010-2011
: Enric Madrenas
: João Pedro Silva
: Bernard Picton
: Manuel Ballesteros.
: M@re Nostrum
: Altres fonts
: Marine Regions

References for the species: Dendrodoris limbata

    Portugal: De Oliveira (1895, as Doriopsis), Nobre (1932, as Doriopsis), García-Gómez et al. (1991), Calado et al. (1999, 2003). Andalucía (Atl.): García-Gómez (1982), Cervera and García-Gómez (1986). Gibraltar: García-Gómez (1982), García-Gómez et al. (1989). Andalucía (Med.): Luque (1983, 1986), Ballesteros et al. (1986), Sánchez Tocino, Ocaña and García (2000a), Ocaña et al. (2000), Valdés et al. (1996). Levante: De Fez (1974, as Doriopsis), Templado (1982b, 1983, 1984), Ballesteros et al. (1986), Ávila Escartín (1993), Templado et al. (2002). Catalunya: Ros (1975, 1978, 1985b), Ballesteros (1978, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985), Pereira (1980), Altimira et al. (1981), Huelin & Ros (1984), Ávila (1993), Valdés et al. (1996), Domènech et al. (2006, 2006), M@re Nostrum [Cala Rovellada (Colera) 11/2000, Portlligat (Cadaqués) 3/2001, Cala Montgó (L'Escala) 4/2001]. Baleares: Ros (1985b), Ballesteros, Álvarez and Mateo (1986), Ávila Escartín (1993), Valdés et al. (1996).

    General: Cattaneo-Vietti, Chemello, & Giannuzzi-Savelli, 1990:121[P]; Cesari, 1990:[P]; Nordsieck, 1972:64; Perrone, 1983b:135; Pruvot-Fol, 1951:42; 1954b:331; Riedl, 1970:429; 1983:337; Schmekel & Portmann, 1982:137[P]; Valdes, Ortea, Avila, & Ballesteros, 1996:5[P]; Vicente, 1967:155; 1981:79; White, 1955:183

    Sources: Cervera et al., 2004, Ballesteros, 2007 & 2016, McDonald, 2006 and other sources.


    Western Mediterranean:3 out of 5 stars
    Eastern Mediterranean:2 out of 5 stars
    Atlantic Ocean:1 out of 5 stars

This chart displays the monthly observation probability for Dendrodoris limbata based on our own records.


Dendrodoris limbata by Pascal Girard


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Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes (2012-2020) "Dendrodoris limbata" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 16/05/2012, Accessed: 04/06/2020 at (

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