Fulvia fragilis
(Forsskål in Niehbur, 1775)

Relevant Synonyms
Cardium fragile Forsskål in Niehbur, 1775

Cardium papyraceum Gmelin, 1791 [Moazzo, 1939]
Papyridea papyracea (Gmelin, 1791) [Barash and Danin, 1973; Lindner, 1988]
Fulvia papyracea [Passamonti, 1996]

 photo: S. Gofas / Coll. E. Verdala-Theodorou    

Shell fragile, medium to large sized, equivalve slightly inequilateral. Outline almost circular, a little longer than high; anterior margin rounded, posterior part more or less transversally or obliquely expanded, often slightly truncated. Sculpture of 41 ribs (34-52) as wide as the interstices; ribs generally rounded in the anterior part; flatly rounded to asymmetrically triangular in the median third of the shell; more rounded with calcareous spines or tubercles in posterior part. No granulation in the adults except sometimes on the lunule. Internal margin crenulate.

color : externally whitish, beige, to yellow with a purple stain only on the umbo. Internally white with purple at the posterior third and sometimes at the umbonal cavity.

common size : to 75 mm in height.

It can be confused with F. australis especially in juvenile shells (< than 3-4 mm). However, the presence of "spines" in the posterior part and sometimes a periostracal insertion on the last fold are diagnostic for F. australis. Fulvia fragilis can be distinguished from by its less oblique shape, by its rounded and large instead of triangular and smaller last fold, by its fewer ribs and by the presence of well rounded ribs, never observed in F. australis (Vidal, 1994).

See remarks under Fulvia australis. The thin shell is typical of species living in protected muddy biotopes. Usually sympatric with F. australis.

habitat : littoral to shallow waters; dredged from 9-37 m sandy, sandy muddy and muddy bottoms; also on sandy bottoms with Zostera sp.

1st Mediterranean record
Israel, 1973 [1955].

Worldwide: Western Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, Red Sea; recorded in the Suez Canal (Keller, 1883, fide Moazzo, 1939; first confirmed record Bavay, 1898). Mediterranean: recorded first in 1955 as Papyridea papyracea from Israel (Barash and Danin, 1973); successively from southern Turkey (Lindner, 1988); Tunisia (Passamonti, 1996); Greece (Vardala-Theodorou, 1999); Spain (Emilio Rolán, pers. comm., identification confirmed by S. Gofas on the basis of the material).

Well established. Tunisia: several records from various sites (Enzenross and Enzenross, 2001). Common in Elefsis Bay, invasive before it declined.

speculated reasons for success :
strongly adaptive to variation in salinity.

Presumably via the Suez Canal. May arrive in Tunisia through Egypt, Libya; anthropogenic intervention must be excluded since it was found in an area visited only by small local boats. But its recent finding in Saronikos Gulf suggests that it may be also ship-transported.



  • Barash A. and Danin Z., 1973. The Indo-Pacific species of mollusca in the Mediterranean and notes on a collection from the Suez canal. Israel Journal of Zoology, 21(3-4): 301-374.
  • Lindner G., 1988. Laevicardium (Fulvia) papyraceum (Bruguière, 1788) -von der sudturkischen Mittelmeerkuste (Leg. der Familie Schmidt, Feldkirchen). Club Conchylia Informationen, 20(1-2): 35-37.
  • Passamonti M., 1996. Nuova segnalazione per le coste Tunisine di Papyridea papyracea (Gmelin,1791) (Bivalvia: Cardidae). Bollettino Malacologico, 32(5-8): 153-156.


  • Vardala-Theodorou G.E., 1999. The occurrence of the Indo-Pacific molluscan species Fulvia fragilis (Forsskål, 1775) and Bulla ampulla L., 1758 in Elefsis Bay. Newsletter of the Hellenic Zoological Society, February, Fasc. 31: 10-11.


Last update : January 2005

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