Christmas Tree Worm (species: Spirobranchus spp) in Lizard Island area: all known taxa (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Spirobranchus spp
Christmas Tree Worm

©Unknown: Christmas tree worms in a Porites colony at Lizard Island

©Anne Hoggett: Christmas Tree Worm at Lizard Island

©Anne Hoggett: Christmas Tree Worm at Lizard Island
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Annelida
Class Polychaeta
Order Sabellida
Family Serpulidae
Genus Spirobranchus
Species Spirobranchus spp



Distinguishing features

Dr Elena Kupriyanova (Australian Museum, Aug 2020) advises that the serpulids known as Christmas Tree Worms can include several species including (but not limited to): Spirobranchus corniculatus, Spirobranchus gardineri, Spirobranchus nigranucha and Spirobranchus richardsmithi, all of which are known from Lizard Island. Ornamentation of the operculum needs to be examined to distinguish species but opercula tend to become overgrown by algae, so even in the lab, they often need to be cleaned for identification. Elena wonders if colour could be species specific but so little is known about colour variability within species that it's not useful for field identifications.


  • Size data has not been obtained.



Local abundance

  • Lizard Island: Extremely common

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