Distichium capillaceum

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Identification notes

There are so many smallish (a few cm. tall) tuft-forming acrocarps with long, thin, pointy leaves, that the heart can initially sink when you pick up this moss. It grows in the north and west, in calcareous areas, including sand-dunes. However, despondency soon turns to delight when you notice a very distinctive feature: the leaves, about 5mm long and finely pointed, with a strong nerve and reflexed from a sheathing base, all lie in one plane – they’re ‘distichous’ ie arranged in two rows on opposite sides of the stem. Hence the name. This arrangement is very striking and unmistakeable under the hand-lens. The relief is palpable. There is only one possible source of confusion: Distichium inclinatum also grows in Britain and Ireland in similar places. This is inseparable from D. capillaceum when infertile, even microscopically, but if capsules are present, the inclined (~45deg) egg-shaped capsules of D. inclinatum contrast with the erect, cylindrical capsules of D. capillaceum.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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