Taxon profile


Common Limpet
Patella vulgata Linnaeus, 1758

kingdom Animalia - animals »  phylum Mollusca - mollusks »  class Gastropoda - gastropods »  family Patellidae »  genus Patella - limpet

Scientific synonyms

Patella vulgata var. aurea Dautzenberg & Durouchoux, 1906
Patella vulgata var. communis Brown, 1844
Patella conica Anton, 1838
Patella vulgata var. elevata Jeffreys, 1865
Patella hypsilotera Locard, 1892
Patella vulgata var. major Dautzenberg & Durouchoux, 1906
Patella radiata Perry, 1811
Patella vulgata var. secernenda Dautzenberg, 1887
Patella servaini Mabille, 1888


Patella vulgata - Common Limpet

Author: Karla Otta

Patella vulgata - Common Limpet

Author: Karla Otta

Patella vulgata - Common Limpet

Author: Karla Otta

Taxon in country check-lists*

* List of countries might not be complete


This is the common European edible limpet. It is moderately large, solid, oval and conical, radially ribbed, and usually whitish or yellowish, often radially lined or streaked in brown.
Shell moderately large, up to 60 mm. (2,375 inches) in length, solid, oval, conical, with the apex a little in front of the middle, and sculptured with radiating ribs and interstitial lirae. Colour varying from whitish to yellowish, sometimes radially lined or streaked with dark-brown. Interior weakly iridescent, the spatula grayish to leaden colour or clouded with whitish callus, often with the shell margin dark-lined by the external pattern showing through.
Radula-formula: 3+1+ 4+1 + 3. The four central teeth are of approximately equal size, and are arranged in a straight horizontal line, without a median vestigial central. Length 40-60 mm., Width 30-55 mm.
Source: Powell, 1973. The Patellid limpets of the world (Patellidae).
Shell conical, thick, its apex more or less central, its outer surface with radial ridges. Aperture oval, narrower anteriorly, rounded behind. Animal with pallial gills round the entire mantle edge; marginal pallial tentacles devoid of white pigment. Operculum absent. The radial ridges are usually single, sharply crested in young shells but often eroded in older ones. New ridges appear in the furrows towards the shell edge. There are also growth lines parallel to the edge and tubercles may occur where the two sets cross. The height of the shell varies with age and with position on the beach, those from higher levels being taller and usually with convex profiles, those from lower levels less high and straight-sided (Orton, 1929); estuarine animals also have higher shells (Nelson-Smith, 1967). The lip of the aperture is bevelled internally, crenulated by the ridges and grows to fit the particular place the animal uses as home. White or grey externally, grey-green or yellowish internally, white towards the centre; there are dark paired bands in the furrows, seen by holding it against a light and sometimes visible near the margin internally. Up to 50 mm long, 40 mm broad, 20 mm high.
The animal has a large head with two tentacles each with a small black eye dorsally on the swollen base. The marginal tentacles on the mantle skirt are of up to four lengths, representing successive families. The foot is large but has no glandular streak along its sides anteriorly as in Helcion. Grey-green, the cephalic tentacles and foot sole darker than the rest of the body.
Graham, A.; 1988. Molluscs: Prosobranch and Pyramidellid Gastropods.


The species has a range extending from the Mediterranean to northern Norway.
This is a ubiquitous animal wherever it can find firm attachment between the upper part of the laminarian zone and M.H.W.N.T. or M.H.W.S.T.. depending on exposure and shade (Bowman & Lewis. 1977). It tolerates salinities to about 25%c (Arnold, 1957, 1972). It grazes the rocks on which it lives, making feeding excursions, often at night, and then returning to its home.
Graham, A.; 1988. Molluscs: Prosobranch and Pyramidellid Gastropods.

Interesting facts

The animals are protandrous hermaphrodites (Orton, 1928; Orton, South-ward & Dodd, 1956), a typical population containing60% males, 20% females and 20% immature or spent (Choquet, 1967, 1970). Breeding occurs in autumn in the north, winter in the south (Bowman, 1981). Eggs are fertilized externally, are planktonic, and give rise to free-swimming trochophore larvae which settle with a shell length of about 200 µm often in crevices or shallow pools from which they later migrate when able to cope with exposure (0.5-1 mm long low on the shore, 2-3 mm long at high levels). The youngest stages are identifiable by the presence of ribs running along the main anteroposterior axis and by the even pattern of their pigment stripes (Bowman. 1981).
Graham, A.; 1988. Molluscs: Prosobranch and Pyramidellid Gastropods.
Author: Jan Delsing

Similar species

Patella aspera Röding, 1798

Included taxa

Number of records: 7

subspecies Patella vulgata aurea H. Martel, 1906
subspecies Patella vulgata communis T. Brown, 1844
subspecies Patella vulgata conica H.E. Anton, 1839
subspecies Patella vulgata elevata J.G. Jeffreys, 1865
subspecies Patella vulgata major P. Dautzenberg & P. Durouchoux, 1906
subspecies Patella vulgata radiata C. Linnaeus, 1758
subspecies Patella vulgata secernenda C. Linnaeus, 1758

Links and literature

EN Galli C.: WMSDB - Wolrdwide Mollusc Species Data Base July 10, 2013 [] [as Patella vulgata Linnaeus, 1758]
Data retrieved on: 23 November 2013
EN Galli C.: WMSDB - Wolrdwide Mollusc Species Data Base July 10, 2013 [] [as Patella servaini Mabille, 1888]
Data retrieved on: 23 November 2013
CZ Pfleger V. (1999): České názvy živočichů III. Měkkýši (Mollusca), Národní muzeum, (zoologické odd.), Praha, 108 pp. [as Patella vulgata LINNÉ, 1758]
Data retrieved on: 11 November 2013
IT Repetto G., Orlando F. & Arduino G. (2005): Conchiglie del Mediterraneo, Amici del Museo "Federico Eusebio", Alba, Italy [as Patella vulgata Linné, 1758]
EN Petović S., Gvozdenović S., Ikica Z. (2017): An Annotated Checklist of the Marine Molluscs of the South Adriatic Sea (Montenegro) and a Comparison with Those of Neighbouring Areas, Turkish Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 17: 921-934 [as Patella vulgata (Linnaeus, 1758)]

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