Leptobryum pyriforme

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Identification notes

This may be one of the first mosses you encounter as a budding bryologist. It often grows as a tiny emerald lawn in flowerpots in greenhouses, looking, on closer inspection, like mini palm trees with tufts of long thin leaves at the top of each ‘trunk’.  However, it can be found ‘wild’ in other environments, some semi-domesticated, such as arable fields, or the base of mortared walls, others more natural, such as shaded spots in woods and by streams – in fact it can turn up pretty much anywhere.

How can we be sure we’ve found it, as so far it sounds like many other small acrocarps? A closer look reveals additional features which help to separate it from Didymodons and the like. 2-3 mm long pendent, pear-shaped capsules raised on 2-3 cm long setae are often present and catch the eye. The upper leaves are indeed long and thin, up to 6mm in the comal tuft, much shorter below. Purplish rhizoids and axillary hairs can often be spied with a good lens, as can blackish club-shaped tubers, sometimes in abundance. Any of these features is helpful in distinguishing Leptobryum, but the smaller features are easy to miss with the hand lens and many is the exciting unknown bryophyte that, under the microscope, magically transforms into this species. The very long (up to 100 microns) thin cells, far exceeding anything seen in even the most exuberant Trichodon or Dicranella, will clinch the identification.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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