Bamboo worm 

Asychis glabra Knox & Cameron, 1971

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

Family level description.
Maldanidae are burrowing worms in which the midbody segments are strongly elongate, hence the common name "bamboo worms". The head is a flattened or obliquely truncate sometimes forming a flattened oval at the anterior end (termed a cephalic plaque), often with a marginal raised flange, and lacks appendages. The eversible pharynx lacks hard parts. The pygidium (anal end) frequently has a flower-like structure of variously formed radially-arranged soft lobes. Chaetae include hair-like simple capillaries and hooks with a terminal "beard" of subdistal hairs.

Species level technical description.
Cephalic plaque absent. Cephalic rim with marginal flange present, notched, lateral notches shallow, incision not reaching base of cephalic margin. Nuchal slits curved or J-shaped, not forming a V. Prostomial palpode present. Chaetiger 1 with collar. Branchial filaments absent. Nephridiopores present (on chaetigers 7-9). First chaetiger with notochaetae only. Spirally fringed notochaetae present, type A or type C. Rostrate uncini present. Pre-anal achaetigerous segment(s) absent (often rudimentary), 1 achaetous preanal segments. Pygidium well developed, Anus dorsal, Anal plaque absent. Anus with marginal cirri or without marginal cirri (usually, but present in A. amphiglyptus (Hartman, 1966) fide Light, 1991), all anal cirri similar in length, 1 to 3 simple or branched cirri. Anal valve absent. Anal mound typically vase shaped and heavily sculptured. Pygidium well developed, foliaceous, dorsal lobe cordate, with from 1 to 3 simple or branched cirri, except in specimens of A.amphiglyptus. Dorsal and ventral pygidal lobes forming deep funnel like pocket; posterior wall of dorsal lobe expanded, bulbous, resembling a mushroom



General Description

In members of this genus a cephalic plaque is absent, cephalic rim with marginal flange, nuchal slits are curved or J-shaped; no collar on chaetiger 1, Pygidium will developed, foliaceous with 1-3 cirri, and the first chaetiger has chaetae only in dorsal bundles. Body up to about 10 cm long.


There has been little taxonomic study of Maldanidae in Australian waters; the family is undoubtedly diverse here and many species remain to be discovered and described. Specimens need to be complete to enable all important characters to be described (fragments are often unidentifiable).


Port Phillip Bay and other similar coastal habitats, inshore and continental shelf.

Soft substrates

Distribution guide

South-eastern Australia.

Species Group

Worms Bamboo worms


Shore (0-1 m)
Shallow (1-30 m)
Deep ( > 30 m)

Water Column

On or near sea floor

Max Size

10 cm

Commercial Species


Global Dispersal

Native to Australia


Conservation Status

  • DSE Advisory List : Not listed
  • EPBC Act 1999 : Not listed
  • IUCN Red List : Not listed


article author Wilson, R.

Robin Wilson is a Senior Curator of marine invertebrates at Museum Victoria.


Cite this page as:
Wilson, R., 2011, Bamboo worm, Asychis glabra, in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 29 May 2020,

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