Peppery furrow shell (Scrobicularia plana)

GenusScrobiculaia (1)
SizeLength: up to 63 mm (2)

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

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).

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

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

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).

The peppery furrow shell is not currently threatened.

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

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

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  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)