Cepaea hortensis

Cepaea (Cepaea) hortensis (O. F. Müller, 1774)
White-Lip Gardensnail

  • Helix hortensis O. F. Müller 1774: 52.
  • Helix subglobosa A. Binney 1837 (1837–1841): 485, pl. 17.
  • Many additional synonyms in Europe.
Cepaea hortensis, Ottawa
Cepaea hortensis; Burnt Lands alvar, Ottawa, Ontario, September 2012.

Identification. Shell subglobose. Spire elevated, conical. Whorls 4½–5¼, convex. Periphery rounded. Protoconch smooth. Teleoconch irregular, low, round-topped colabral wrinkles with microscopic, semi-spiral wrinkles (almost malleated) in interspaces. Periostracum varnish-like. Aperture subovate, without teeth, width approximately equal to height. Last whorl descending when shell full grown. Lip not thickened in adults, strongly expanded. Umbilicus closed in adults. Shell glossy, semi-opaque; straw-yellow, without bands or with 1–5 pale to dark brown bands (may be fused together); lip white. Width to 18–23 mm (wider than high).

Cepaea hortensis, Salmon Point, Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland. RGF 112.116.6131.
Cepaea hortensis; Saint John, NB.

Animal greyish brown; tentacles grey, with darker streaks.

Recognized from C. hortensis by its usually smaller, more globular shell with a pale peristome.

Habitat. On open, grassy, coastal islands and headlands; stable seaside dunes; in gardens and vacant land.

Global range. Western and central Europe; Iceland and Greenland; eastern Canada south along the New England coast as far as New York. Distinctly restricted to maritime coastal areas throughout much of its North American distribution, but in Europe, it occurs both along the Atlantic coast and in continental Central Europe.

Although by some authors (e.g., W.G. Binney 1885: 467) to be a recent introduction, there is evidence that this species is a pre-Columbian arrival (Pliocene or Pleistocene) (Pilsbry 1939); excavations from a cave on the Gaspé Peninsula pre-date the Viking era, not an introduction by Vikings (Pearce & Olori 2004).

Canadian range. Near the coast, in Newfoundland and the Maritime Provinces, along the St Lawrence river valley in Quebec, including the Gaspé Peninsula and Île d’Anticosti. Presumably introduced to south-eastern Ontario (Grimm et al. 2010): Ottawa region and Prince Edward County.

Heron (1880) mentioned finding C. nemoralis or C. hortensis (it is not sure which species, but Oughton [1948] took these to be C. hortensis) in the vicinity of Ottawa in the early 1870s. Although both species are there today, Oughton (1948) was unaware of any records of C. hortensis at that time.

Etymology. Latin: of gardens.