Dendrodoris limbata

Dendrodoris limbata (Cuvier, 1804)

Dendrodoris limbata @ Granada by Enric Madrenas













































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


    Western Mediterranean: ★★★☆☆
    Eastern Mediterranean: ★★☆☆☆
    Atlantic Ocean: ★☆☆☆☆

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



More pictures


    Affeld S, Wägele H, Avila C, et al. Distribution of homarine in some Opisthobranchia (Gastropoda : Mollusca). Bonner Zoologische  Beiträge 55(3-4):181-190.
    Aguado F, López González S. 2015. Moluscos Nudibranquios de la Costa Tropical. Asociación Buxus & Ayuntamiento de Motril.
    Altimira C, Huelin MF, Ros J. 1981. Mol·luscs bentònics de les illes Medes (Girona). I. Sistemàtica. Butll. Inst. Cat. Hist. Nat. (Sec. Zool.), 47: 69-75.
    Andersen RJ, Desjardine K, Woods K. 2006. Skin chemistry of nudibranchs from the west coast  of North America, pp. 277-301. In: Guido Cimino & Margherita Gavagnin, (Eds.). Molluscs: from  chemo-ecological study to biotechnological application. [Progress in Molecular & Subcellular Biology  (Subseries: Marine Molecular Biotechnology) 43.]. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg & New York,  i-xix. 387 p.
    Avila C. 2006. Molluscan natural products as biological models: chemical ecology, histology, and  laboratory culture, pp. 1-23. In: Guido Cimino & Margherita Gavagnin, (Eds.). Molluscs: from  chemo-ecological study to biotechnological application. [Progress in Molecular & Subcellular Biology  (Subseries: Marine Molecular Biotechnology) 43.]. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg & New York,  i-xix, 1-387 pp.
    Avila C. 1992. A preliminary catalogue of natural substances of opisthobranch molluscs from western Mediterranean and near Atlantic. Scientia Marina 56(4):373-382.
    Avila C. 1995. Natural products of opisthobranch molluscs: a biological review. Oceanography and Mar Biol: an Annual Review 33: 487-559.
    Avila C. 1993. Sustancias naturales de moluscos opistobranquios: Estudio de su estructura, origen y función en ecosistemas bentónicos. Tesis Doctoral. Universitat de Barcelona. Universitat de Barcelona.
    Avila C, Durfort M. 1996. Histology of Epithelia and Mantle Glands of Selected Species of Doridacean Mollusks with Chemical Defensive Strategies. Veliger 39(2):148-163.
    Avila C, Cimino G, Crispino A, et al. 1991. Drimane sesquiterpenoids in Mediterranean Dendrodoris nudibranchs: anatomical distribution and biological role. Experientia 47(3):306-310. Available from
    Ballesteros M. 1978. Contribución al conocimiento de la fauna bentónica de Cubellas. Publicaciones del Departamento de Zoología (Barcelona) 3: 11-23.
    Ballesteros M. 1981. Sobre un raro armináceo (Mollusca: Opisthobranchia) de la costa mediterránea española: Armina maculata Rafinesque, 1814. Publicaciones del Departamento de Zoología (Barcelona) 6: 27-31.
    Ballesteros M. 1984. Adiciones a la fauna de opistobranquios de Cubellas (Tarragona). Miscelánea Zoológica 8: 41-49.
    Ballesteros M. 1984. Nudibranquios: miscelanea de formas y coloraciones. Immersio 3(4):20-24.
    Ballesteros M. 1982. Nota preliminar sobre la fauna de nudibranquios de la isla de Ibiza. Actas II Simposio Ibérico de Estudios del Bentos Marino 3: 229-234.
    Ballesteros M. 1991. Els Opistobranquis. pp. 416-427. In: Historia Natural dels Països Catalans,  Invertebrats no artròpodes. Enciclopèdia Catalana. Barcelona.
    Ballesteros M. 2007. Lista actualizada de los opistobranquios (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) de las costas catalanas. Spira. 2(3):163–188.
    Ballesteros M. 1982. Estado actual de la fauna de Doridaceos (Mollusca: Opisthobranchia) de las costas Catalanas. Oceanografia de la Mediterrania Occidental, Res. Com Oral Reunion Soc. Cat. Biologia, 2 pp.
    Ballesteros M. 1980. Contribución al conocimientos de los Sacoglosos y Nudibranquios (Mollusca: Opisthobranchia). Estudio anatómico, sistemático y faunístico de las especies del mediterráneo español. Tesis Doctoral. Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona.
    Ballesteros M, Ortea JA. 1981. Redescubrimiento de Dendrodoris inornata Abraham, 1877. Resumenes III Congreso Nacional de Malacologia, Sociedad Espana de Malacologia, Cartagena.
    Ballesteros M, Ortea J. 1980. Contribución al conocimiento de los Dendrodorididae (Moluscos: Opisthobranquios: Doridaceos) del litoral iberico. Publicaciones del Departamento de Zoología, Universidad de Barcelona, Facultad de Biología. 5:25–37.
    Ballesteros M, Barrajón A, Luque A, et al. 1986. Contribución al conocimiento de los Moluscos Gasterópodos marinos de Almería. Iberus, 6: 39-57.
    Ballesteros M, Álvarez C, Mateo B. 1986. Aproximación a la fauna de opistobranquios de la isla de Menorca. Publicaciones del Departamento de Zoología (Barcelona) 12: 93-106.
    Ballesteros M, Pontes M, Madrenas E. 2015. Opisthobranch from Medes Islands (Marine Protected Area, Costa Brava, Catalonia, NE Spain): 40 years of study. Available from
    Ballesteros M, Madrenas E, Pontes M. 2016. Actualización del catálogo de los moluscos opistobranquios (Gastropoda: Heterobranchia) de las costas catalanas. Spira. 6:1–28.
    Ballesteros M, Madrenas E, Pontes M. 2023. OPK - Opistobranquis. Available from
    Ballesteros M, Pontes M, Madrenas E. 2019. Els nudibranquis del mar català. Figueres: Brau Edicions. 192 p.
    Barash A, Danin Z. 1992. Annotated list of Mediterranean molluscs of Israel and Sinai, viii. Fauna Palaestina, Mollusca I. Israel Academy of Sciences &  Humanities.
    Barash A, Danin Z. 1971. Opisthobranchia (Mollusca) from the Mediterranean waters of Israel. Israel Journal of Zoology, 20, 151-200.
    Barash A, Zenziper Z. 1984. On the food of some opisthobranchs found in the Mediterranean waters of Israel. Levantina (Israel Malacological Society) 51:585-598.
    Barletta G. 1981. Gasteropodi nudi (Pleurobranchomorpha, Sacoglossa, Aplysiomorpha e Nudibranchia) Consiglio Nazionale delle Richerche, Guide per il riconoscimento delle specie animali delle acque lagunari e costiere italiane AQ/1/92, 3. Quaderni della Civica Stazione Idrobiologica di Milano (9):1-124.
    Barletta G, Melone G. 1976. Nudibranchi del Promontorio di Portofino (Genova) (Gastropoda Nudibranchia). Natura, Societa Italiana di Scienze Naturali, Milano 67(3-4):203-236.
    Barletta G, Mariani M, Perego C. 1990. Considerazioni preliminari sugli opistobranchi viventi nella baia di Paraggi (Ge). Lavori della Societa Italiana di Malacologia 23:247-260.
    Bedulli D, Cattaneo-Vietti R, Chemello R, et al. 1995. Gastropoda Opisthobranchia, Divasibranchia, Gymnomorpha, Fascicolo 15, pp. 1-23.  In: A. Minelli, A. Ruffo, & S. La Posta (Eds.). Checklist delle specie fauna italiana. Bologna: Calderini (Checklist delle specie della Fauna Italiana).
    Benkendorff K. 1999. Bioactive molluscan resources and their conservation: biological and  chemical studies on the egg masses of marine molluscs, xviii. University of  Wollongong. Available from
    Bergh LSR. 1880. Die Doriopsen des Mittelmeeres. Jahrbucher der Deutsche Malakozoologische Gesellschaft. 7:297–328. Available from
    Betti F, Bavestrello G, Cattaneo-Vietti R. 2021. Preliminary evidence of fluorescence in Mediterranean heterobranchs. Journal of Molluscan Studies. 87:eyaa040.
    Bhakuni D. 1994. Bioactive metabolites of the marine-invertebrates - mollusks, echinoderms,  tunicates and crustaceans : Part II. Journal of Scientific & Industrial Research 53(5):340-353.
    Bielecki S, Cavignaux G, Crouzet JM, et al. 2011. Des limaces de rêve.
    Calado G, Urgorri V, Gaspar R, et al. 1999. Catálogo de los moluscos opistobranquios bentónicos de las costas de Setúbal-Espichel (Portugal). Nova Acta Científica Compostelana (Bioloxía) 9: 285-294.
    Calado G, Malaquias M, Gavaia C, et al. 2003. New data on opisthobranchs (Mollusca: Gastropoda) from the southwestern coast of Portugal. Boletín Instituto Español de Oceanografía 19 (1-4): 199-204.
    Cattaneo-Vietti R. 1982. Opisthobranch molluscs of the Sorrentine Peninsula caves. Bollettino dei  Musei e degli Istituti Biologici dell’Università di Genova [Atti del XIV Congresso della Societa Italiana  di Biologia Marina] 50(suppl.):376-377.
    Cattaneo-Vietti R. 1986. Alcune considerazioni sui molluschi opistobranchi del Mar Ligure. Lavori Societa Italiana di Malacologia 22:85-96.
    Cattaneo-Vietti R, Barletta G. 1984. Elenco preliminare dei molluschi opistobranchi viventi nel Mediterraneo (Sacoglossa, Pleurobranchomorpha, Acochlidiacea, Aplysiomorpha, Nudibranchia). Bollettino Malacologico (Pubblicazione Mensile Edita dalla Societa Italiana di Malacologia) 20(9-12):195-218.
    Cattaneo-Vietti R, Chemello R. 1991. The opisthobranch fauna of a Mediterranean lagoon (Stagnone di Marsala, western Sicily). Malacologia 32(2):291-299.
    Cattaneo-Vietti R, Chemello R. 1987. Alcune considerazioni sui molluschi opistobranchi della Sicilia. Bollettino Malacologico (Pubblicazione Mensile Edita dalla Societa Italiana di Malacologia) 23(5-8):207-222.
    Cattaneo-Vietti R, Russo GF. 1987. Molluscs from submarine caves of the Sorrentine Peninsula (southern Tyrrhenian Sea). Stygologia 3(2):138-148.
    Cattaneo-Vietti R, Thompson TE. 1989. Mediterranean opisthobranch molluscs: a zoogeographic approach. Bollettino Malacologico (Pubblicazione Mensile Edita dalla Societa Italiana di Malacologia) 25(5-8):183-204.
    Cattaneo-Vietti R, Chemello R, Giannuzzi-Savelli R. 1990. Atlas of Mediterranean Nudibranchs. Rome, Italy: La Conchiglia. 264 p.
    Cervera JL, García-Gómez JC. 1986. Moluscos opistobranquios del litoral occidental andaluz: nuevas aportaciones faunísticas. Iberus 6 (2): 201-207.

    Bibliography based on the works by Steve Long, 2006. Bibliography of Opisthobranchia 1554-2000 and Gary McDonald, 2009. Bibliographia Nudibranchia, with later updates from other resources.

Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, M., Madrenas, E. & Pontes, M. (2023) "Dendrodoris limbata" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 16/05/2012. Accessed: 04/03/2024. Available at (

To copy this cite click on the right button.