Ditrichum subulatum

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Identification notes

Hunting for this very rare moss normally involves lots of slipping about on intertidal mud and slippery seaweed when the tide is out!

Its habitat is pockets of bare clay soil on vertical, eroding shaly banks below woodland in coastal creeks, where it grows above high water level. It especially likes sheltered recesses and scoops under exposed oak tree roots where it sometimes grows with another rare coastal creek specialist, Cephaloziella turneri.

It is a short-lived species and moves around opportunistically. The best time to look for it is in early spring when the capsules on long setae are common and render the plants more visible. In passing, it could be mistaken for Dicranella heteromalla although its leaves are longer, wispier and are not especially curved to one side whilst its capsules are erect, not inclined. Look very closely at the leaf and you’ll also see the expanded leaf base typical of Ditrichum.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

The BBS meeting in Cornwall in April 2022 found several new populations of D. subulatum in previously unexplored woodland along the Helford Estuary.

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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