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Goose barnacle

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Title: Goose barnacle  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Barnacle, Peduncle, Seafood in Native American cuisine, Human Planet, Edible crustaceans
Collection: Barnacles, Edible Crustaceans, Seafood in Native American Cuisine
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Goose barnacle

Goose barnacle
Pollicipes pollicipes
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Maxillopoda
Infraclass: Cirripedia
Order: Pedunculata
Lamarck, 1818 [1]

Goose barnacles (order Pedunculata), also called stalked barnacles or gooseneck barnacles, are filter-feeding crustaceans that live attached to hard surfaces of rocks and flotsam in the ocean intertidal zone.


  • Biology 1
  • Mythology 2
  • Taxonomy 3
  • As food 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Some species of goose barnacles such as Lepas anatifera are pelagic and are most frequently found on tidewrack on oceanic coasts. Unlike most other types of barnacles, intertidal goose barnacles (e.g. Pollicipes pollicipes and Pollicipes polymerus) depend on water motion rather than the movement of their cirri for feeding, and are therefore found only on exposed or moderately exposed coasts.


"The goose-tree" from Gerard's Herbal (1597), displaying the belief that goose barnacles produced barnacle geese.

In the days before it was realised that birds migrate, it was thought that barnacle geese, Branta leucopsis, developed from this crustacean, since they were never seen to nest in temperate Europe,[2] hence the English names "goose barnacle", "barnacle goose" and the scientific name Lepas anserifera (Latin anser = "goose"). The confusion was prompted by the similarities in colour and shape. Because they were often found on driftwood, it was assumed that the barnacles were attached to branches before they fell in the water. The Welsh monk, Giraldus Cambrensis, made this claim in his Topographia Hiberniae.[3]

Since barnacle geese were thought to be "neither flesh, nor born of flesh", they were allowed to be eaten on days when eating meat was forbidden by Christianity,[2] though it was not universally accepted. The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II examined barnacles and noted no evidence of any bird-like embryo in them, and the secretary of Leo of Rozmital wrote a very skeptical account of his reaction to being served the goose at a fast-day dinner in 1456.[4]


The order Pedunculata is divided into the following suborders and families:[5]

Heteralepadomorpha Newman, 1987
Iblomorpha Newman, 1987
Lepadomorpha Pilsbry, 1916
Scalpellomorpha Newman, 1987

As food

Gooseneck barnacles being enjoyed in a Spanish restaurant in Madrid.

In Portugal and Spain, they are a widely consumed and expensive delicacy known as percebes. Percebes are harvested commercially in the northern coast, mainly in Galicia and Asturias, and are also imported from overseas, particularly from Morocco and Canada. The indigenous peoples of California eat the stem after cooking it in hot ashes.[6]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^ Henisch, Bridget Ann, Fast and Feast: Food in Medieval Society. The Pennsylvania State Press, University Park. 1976. ISBN 0-271-01230-7, pp. 48–49.
  5. ^
  6. ^ The Natural World of the California Indians. By Robert F. Heizer and Albert B. Elsasser.

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Data related to Pedunculata at Wikispecies
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