Hedwigia stellata

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Identification notes

Easily recognised as a Hedwigia by the whitish leaf apices (most obvious when dry), but which one is it? H. stellata is the commonest of our trio of Hedwigia species and is also most tolerant of exposure and desiccation. It often grows in places out in the open, such as siliceous boulder-tops in moorland. Fortunately living in such places means that plants are often found in the dried state and are usually easy to identify as the recurved tips of the dry leaves stand out and make the upper parts of the shoots look starry. Any doubt about this character (or, if you collect moist plants) can be settled by microscopic examination of the leaf papillae.

Hedwigia species have inconspicuous capsules which are immersed or nearly so on the middle parts of shoots. They have striking perichaetial leaves with long whitish marginal cilia. The capsules of H. stellata are occasional but are not very important for identification.

Unlike H. ciliata, H. stellata is rarely if ever found on old roof tiles, preferring more natural habitats.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

Similar Species

Hedwigia species can be mistaken for Schistidium or Racomitrium species in the field, but the presence of a nerve in all these species should make separation relatively simple.