Bryum elegans

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Identification notes

This little moss is most likely to be found in upland districts where it grows on thin soils overlying limestone or other basic rocks. Its bud-like appearance is very neat and makes you think that it is ‘something different’ and worth checking.

Its leaves are relatively short and wide for a Bryum, but though concave they don’t overlap as neatly as say B. argenteum or B. concinnatum. It most resembles B. kunzei, another moss of limestone, but one that is strictly a lowland plant.

Fortunately, B. elegans has a couple of useful characters that can readily be confirmed under a high power microscope (use David Holyoak’s excellent keys – see below). If you mount some of the larger reddish-brown rhizoids under a coverslip, at high magnification you should see that they are covered with conical papillae; there is an excellent photo of this below. Also at high magnification, look carefully at the mid-leaf cells, which have porose cells walls. Rhizoidal tubers also sometimes are found but are not particularly helpful with identification.

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

Likely to be overlooked and under-recorded in hilly areas.

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

Resources you may find useful

Holyoak, D. 2021. European Bryaceae.

David Holyoak’s book contains keys, detailed morphological, ecological and taxonomic descriptions and diagrams showing key features – and is highly recommended for anyone wishing to get to know Bryum species.

The Bryophyte identification page under Resources contains additional information on the genus Bryum, including an early version of the keys now published in David Holyoak’s book.

Bryophyte identification resources

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