E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Luidia foliolata Grube, 1866
Sand Star
Family: Luidiidae
Photo of species

© Derek Holzapfel  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #16104)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Luidia foliolata in British Columbia
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Family Description:

Small superomarginals, hardly distinguishable from the adjacent aboral paxillae; large, well-developed inferomarginals, with long spines. Oral intermediates almost to the tip of the arm. Pointed tube feet. Branching papulae. Flat disc and arms. No anus, intestine or intestinal caeca.

View a video of this species by Derek Holzapfel.

Species Information

Click on the image below to view an expanded illustration for this taxon. If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., two subspecies may be illustrated) then links to the separate images will be provided below.

Luidia foliolata is a long-armed, dull grey or brown sea star often partially buried in soft substrates. It has five arms up to 30 cm long, rectangular in cross-section. The arm-to-disc ratio is 3.4 to 7.1. The aboral surface is flat and the paxillae are of even height. The entire body is grey or has yellowish-white to light orange mottling; the tube feet are yellow to orange. The aboral surface consists of small, irregular paxillae down the centre of the arm, more square towards the edge; no spines or pedicellariae. Three vertical, flattened spines on the inferomarginal plates outline the arm when viewed from above; the remainder of the plate has smaller, flattened spines with fine spinelets around its perimeter. The row above the inferomarginals, normally the superomarginals, cannot be distinguished from the adjacent aboral paxillae. A single row of small, round oral intermediate plates bear a tuft of 5 spinelets, difficult to see unless all spines are removed. A transverse series of 3 to 5 slender spines are on the oral surface of the adambulacrals. The tube feet are large and pointed. The mouth plates are narrow but more elevated than adjacent adambulacrals. On the vertical edge nearest the mouth is a series of about 20 small spinelets; one or two series of larger suboral spinelets run the length of the plate. A group of 5 spinelets overhang the suture at the distal end of the mouth plate.

Similar Species

L. foliolata cannot be mistaken for any other species in this book.


Luidia foliolata feeds on bivalves, heart urchins, sea cucumbers, brittle stars, polychaete worms, crustacea and tusk shells. A common prey is the cockle Clinocardium nuttallii, which buries itself just under the surface of the mud. The size of prey ingested is limited by the diameter of the mouth. The brittle star Ophiura lutkeni exhibits a strong escape response in the presence of L. foliolata (W.C. Austin personal communication), and the California Sea Cucumber (Parastichopus califomicus) crawls away while rapidly raising its anterior and posterior ends.

The breeding season of L. foliolata is not known, but eggs (160 to 180 micrometres) have been obtained from adults in April, August and January. Under laboratory conditions, bipinnaria larvae have been cultured for four months up to a size of 3 mm before metamorphosis. L. foliolata can move relatively quickly along the bottom. It loses arms readily when disturbed or handled. The scale worms Arctonoe pulchra and A. vittata are commensal on L. foliolata.



Cook Inlet, Alaska, to Nicaragua, 4 to 613 metres. Usually found on mud, sand or broken shells. Common on shallow soft bottoms.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-06-17 1:35:12 PM]
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