Texas Invasive Species Institute

Texas Invasive Species Institute

White-Lipped Grove Snail

Cepaea hortensis

Class: Gastropoda
Order: Not assigned
Family: Helicidae

Cepaea hortensis

Photographer:Didier Descouens Source:www.wikipedia.org Copyright: CC BY-SA 3.0


The white-lipped grove snail (Cepaea hortensis) is polymorphic in relation to shell color and markings. Overall shell color can range from light yellow or white to dark brown or black with variations in band color and number. There is also a possible mutated version of the snail that results in a yellow shell with no banding or markings. This high susceptibility to genetic drift is believed to be related to camouflage depending on the surrounding habitat.

Ecological Threat

The white-lipped grove snail, like other snails from the Helicidae family, consume fungus and are known specifically to consume carrion fungus. This creates a risk for humans consuming this species of snail due to the potential for disease or harmful toxin transfer. As an aggressive addition to many gardens and forests, C. hortensis threatens populations of many native snail species by out competing for food sources.


Consistent with other snail species, the white-lipped grove snail is a hermaphroditic species that can mate to produce offspring or self fertilize. Mating typically occurs in late spring into early summer, but can continue into early fall in climates with warmer weather. The white-lipped grove snail is capable of storing sperm following copulation, allowing for mixed paternal genetic influence. The snail is relatively slow growing with maturity occurring after one year, and has an average life span of 4 years.


The white-lipped grove snail was introduced to the United States as an addition to many outdoor gardens. Unlike many other invasive species, this snail was intentionally introduced.

Native Origin

Western and Central Europe

Current Location

Habitat: With a preference to mild and damp conditions, the white-lipped grove snail is active during the daytime and often located near vegetation for shelter and food. This snail commonly feeds on nettles, ragwort, and hogweed plants, and can be found in wetlands, parks, sand-dunes, forests, and on rocks.


U.S. Present: KY, MA, NY, TX, VA, VT

Texas: Gilchrist, TX


The white-lipped grove snail is similar in appearance to the brown-lipped banded snail (Cepeae nemoralis). The white-lipped snail can be identified by a thinner shell and whirls that are more rounded. The namesake appearance of a white or brown lip can't be relied on for identification due to the polymorphic nature of each species.


It is important to take time to fully clean and sanitize snails before consumption to prevent disease transfer or ingestion of harmful toxins.


Backeljau, T., A. Baur, and B. Baur. 2001. Population and conservation genetics. The biology of terrestrial molluscs. CAB International, Egham.  

Cook, L. M., and James Murray. 1966. New information on the inheritance of polymorphic characters in Cepaea hortensis. Journal of Heredity 57(6): 245-247.

Cowie, R. H., and J. S. Jones. 1987. Ecological interactions between Cepaea nemoralis and Cepaea hortensis: Competition, invasion but no niche displacement. Functional Ecology 1(2): 91-97.

Dees, L. T. 1970. Edible land snails in the United States. United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Resource Publ. 91. Washington, D.C.

Murray, J. 1964. Multiple mating and effective population size in Cepaea nemoralis. Evolution 18:283291.

Whitson, Maggie. 2005. Cepaea nemoralis (Gastropoda, Helicidae) The invited invader. Journal of the Kentucky Academy of Science 66(2): 82-88.


Internet Sources:


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