Common Nutmeg: Family Cancellariidae

Common Nutmeg
Cancellaria reticulata (Linnaeus, 1767)
Family Cancellariidae

The Common Nutmeg or just "Nutmeg" shell is fairly common on S. Hutchinson Island beaches and worm out shells are readily found while good condition shells are found a couple every shelling trip. These small (average .75) sturdy shells have horizontal lines around their circumferences with usually two ridges from their apertures to thier tops.

Common Nutmeg (S. Hutchinson Island, January 2021)

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Family Cancellariidae
Cancellaria reticulata
(Linnaeus, 1767)
Common Nutmeg

Shell size up to 48 mm; shell solid, with 4-6 whorls slightly angled at shoulder. Typically sculptured with axial ribs and spiral cords of about same thickness, giving shell reticulated appearance. Suture well-impressed. Aperture relatively large. Columella with 3-4 strong pleats. Color white to pale orange with bands of rust-brown. Albino shells are not uncommon in Southwest Florida. The picture of the living nutmeg was taken by Amy Tripp on Kice Island, Collier County, in 2010. The juvenile shell, measuring about 3 mm, was collected by Kimberly Nealon on Captiva. The protoconch, or larval shell, can be seen on top of the juvenile shell.

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Common Nutmeg:
Well-Rounded Whorls
By Patricia B. Mitchell.

The Common Nutmeg gastropod has a sturdy and handsome shell which may reach a height of two inches. The surface color is white, pale yellow, or orange, with blotchy, orange-brown bands. The shell has six or seven swollen whorls (volutions, or turns, of the spire). The exterior of the shell is sculpted with vertical (longitudinal) ribs and revolving grooves. The twisted columella boasts two strong folds, or pleats. The upper fold is larger and spirally grooved. The outer lip has strong, even ridges on its inner surface.

The snail is a vegetarian. He lives in sand in warm, shallow seas anywhere from North Carolina to Brazil. His habitat is in coastal shelves at a depth of 20 to 30 feet of water.


    For more information on the Common Nutmeg see:
        R. Tucker Abbott, Seashells of North America: A Guide to Field Identification
        R. Tucker Abbott and Percy A. Morris, Peterson Field Guides: Shells of the Atlantic & Gulf Coasts & the West Indies.
        S. Peter Dance, Eyewitness Handbook of Shells.
        Percy A. Morris, A Field Guide to the Shells of Our Atlantic Coast.
        Bruno Sabelli (author) and Harold S. Feinberg (editor), Simon and Schuster's Guide to Shells.
        Bud Titlow, Seashells: Jewels from the Ocean.
    Classification: Family Cancellariidae; Superfamily Cancellarioidea; Suborder Neogastropoda; Order Caenogastropoda.
    Scientific nomenclature is subject to change, due to ongoing research. The above classification corresponds to that published by the Conchologists of America, Inc.
    Digital formatting is by Jonathan Mitchell.

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Common nutmeg
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Common nutmeg
Cancellaria reticulata 01.JPG
Five views of a shell of Cancellaria reticulata Linnaeus, 1767
Scientific classification
Kingdom:     Animalia
Phylum:     Mollusca
Class:     Gastropoda
(unranked):     clade Caenogastropoda
clade Hypsogastropoda
clade Neogastropoda
Superfamily:     Cancellarioidea
Family:     Cancellariidae
Genus:     Cancellaria
Species:     C. reticulata
Binomial name
Cancellaria reticulata

    Buccinella canulata Perry, 1811
    Cancellaria (Cancellaria) reticulata (Linnaeus, 1767)
    Voluta reticulata Linnaeus, 1767

The common nutmeg, Cancellaria reticulata, is a species of medium-sized to large sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Cancellariidae, the nutmeg snails.[1]

This species lives in the western Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina to Brazil, in the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Lesser Antilles.

The common nutmeg lives in offshore waters. The empty shell is occasionally washed onto ocean beaches.
Life habits

This species is probably carnivorous because its radula is ideal for feeding on soft-bodied animals. The life habits of this species are not known, but one species (Cancellaria cooperi) in the same family is an external parasite on rays.
Shell description

The shell of this species grows up to 2.5 inches in length. It has a rough surface with many spiral cords crossing many axial ribs, resulting in a lattice or beaded pattern. The aperture is elongate, with a short canal. The inner margin with two strong, thin spiral ridges running into its aperture (the upper ridge is stronger than the lower ridge).

There is no operculum.

The common nutmeg's coloration is banded or splotched with tints of cream and orange or brown.

    Bouchet, P. (2010). Cancellaria reticulata (Linnaeus, 1767). Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at on 2012-04-08

    Abbott, R. Tucker, 1986. Seashells of North America, St. Martin's Press, New York
    Common Nutmeg
    NC Sea Grant
    Petit, R.E. & Harasewych, M.G. (2005) Catalogue of the superfamily Cancellarioidea Forbes and Hanley, 1851 (Gastropoda: Prosobranchia)- 2nd edition. Zootaxa, 1102, 3-161. NIZT 682
    Hemmen J. (2007). Recent Cancellariidae. Wiesbaden, 428pp.
    Rosenberg, G., F. Moretzsohn, and E. F. García. 2009. Gastropoda (Mollusca) of the Gulf of Mexico, Pp. 579–699 in Felder, D.L. and D.K. Camp (eds.), Gulf of Mexico–Origins, Waters, and Biota. Biodiversity. Texas A&M Press, College Station, Texas.

External links

    The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum entry at: [1]

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