Peppery furrow shell (Scrobicularia plana)

Peppery furrow shell exposed and feeding
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Peppery furrow shell fact file

Peppery furrow shell description

GenusScrobiculaia (1)

The peppery furrow shell (Scrobicularia plana) is a bivalve mollusc with a thin, flattened, rounded shell (3). The outer surface of the shell may be white, grey or yellowish, and has fine concentric lines, while the inside is always white (3).

Length: up to 63 mm (2)

Peppery furrow shell biology

This bivalve burrows into the sediment to depths of around 20 cm. When covered by the tide, the peppery furrow shell feeds by extending a tube known as the 'inhalant siphon' to the surface. A current of water passes down the siphon and into the body of the bivalve, where particles are removed. The water is then expelled via a second tube (the 'exhalant siphon'). This species feeds on matter on the surface of the sediment, and it leaves star-shaped marks where it has been feeding. Crabs and fishes often feed on the inhalant siphon when it is extended, but the damaged tissue is replaced quickly, in around 5 days (2).

Separate males and females occur, and breeding typically occurs in summer (2). The peppery furrow shell larvae are free-swimming (known as veliger larvae), undergoing metamorphosis into adults and settling after this planktonic stage, which lasts for 2 or 3 weeks (2).


Peppery furrow shell range

The peppery furrow shell is found around Britain, where it often occurs in high densities. It is also common around north-west Europe (2).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.

Peppery furrow shell habitat

The peppery furrow shell inhabits estuarine and intertidal areas, and can survive in conditions of low salinity in thick mud and sand (3).


Peppery furrow shell status

The peppery furrow shell is common and widespread (2).


Peppery furrow shell threats

The peppery furrow shell is not currently threatened.


Peppery furrow shell conservation

There have been no known conservation actions targeting the peppery furrow shell.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.

Find out more

For more information on this species see the Marine Life Information Network species account, available at:



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In this group of aquatic molluscs the soft parts are encased in a shell consisting of two parts known as valves.
Stage in an animal's lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
An abrupt physical change from the larval to the adult form.
Aquatic organisms that drift with water movements; may be either phytoplankton (plants), or zooplankton (animals).


  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (January, 2003)
  2. Fish, J.D. and Fish, S. (1996) A student's guide to the seashore. Second Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Pizzola, P. F 2002. Scrobicularia plana. Peppery furrow shell. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. (November, 2002)

Image credit

Peppery furrow shell exposed and feeding  
Peppery furrow shell exposed and feeding

© Rodger Jackman /

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