Cephalozia bicuspidata

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Identification notes

This is our commonest Cephalozia species, and is typically found on moist humus rich acidic substrates such as peat and rotting wood, although it can also be found on sandy soils. Like other members of the genus, it has distant bilobed leaves with an absence of underleaves and a stem that is translucent because of large cortical cells. Cephaloziella species are generally smaller and have more opaque stems. It is quite a variable plant and can occur as straggling shoots mixed with other bryophytes as well as dense patches. Quite often when examining other material collected from typical habitats one comes across a rogue strand or two of Cephalozia bicuspidata. It sometimes produces long, thin attenuated shoots known as flagellae, and occasionally gemmae.

The leaves tend to be deeply divided with spreading lobes, with the leaf base being inserted diagonally across the stem so that on the anterior surface the leaf base almost reaches the midline. In most all other species in this genus, the leaves are inserted along the side of the stem, parallel to the leaf axis, so this is an important character.

The plant is autoicous and is frequently fertile, producing huge perianths that seem out of proportion to the size of the plant.

Microscopic examination is usually required to confirm the identity of atypical material, such as forms with more closely ranked and concave leaves

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Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

Similar Species

C. bicuspidata is very variable and could be mistaken for many Cephalozia and Cephaloziella species until you look closely and check the leaf insertion. The rare C. ambigua is the only other British species with diagonally inserted leaves.