Hylocomium splendens

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Identification notes

Usually easy to recognise when well-coloured and growing luxuriantly, but odd-looking forms can be found. In practice, there are few mosses that have the intricate, bipinnate flattened branches of H. splendens – the main confuser is Thuidium tamariscinum.

Things to check for in H. splendens are stem colour, which is nearly always bright red (this separates it from Thuidium, which never has red stems). The stems also look fuzzy when examined with a hand-lens due to the presence of numerous tiny, hair-like paraphyllia.

Occasionally, less branched forms (simply pinnate) can be found and as they also have red stems they can be mistaken for Pleurozium schreberi, which, however lacks paraphyllia.

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Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

This species is a calcifuge and so is most commonly encountered on acid soils. However, where aspect and/or high levels of precipitation causes soil leaching it can also be found in limestone grassland.

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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