Leskea polycarpa

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Identification notes

Leskea polycarpa is one of the classic species of tree boles on the banks of silty rivers, lakes and reservoirs and sometimes it’s so encrusted with silt that it’s hard to see much of the moss at all. But did you know that Leskea can also be found sometimes in unexpectedly dry places and well away from rivers? Think plantation woodland and even the damp tarmac surface of little-used rural lanes. In the latter it may be found with other river flood-zone species such as Syntrichia latifolia, Dialytrichia mucronata and/or Scleropodium cespitans.

Leskea is seldom seen without its distinctive long, narrow capsules which certainly draw the eye when they are numerous. In some parts of the country, it grows along the same rivers as the similar-looking but much rarer Myrinia pulvinata, but its capsules are longer and its nerve more obvious. Myrinia seems to also prefer a slightly less frequently inundated situation than Leskea and so will often be found a little higher up the riverbank.

Moist plants of Leskea have widely spreading leaves and look quite unlike their dry counterparts, whose leaves lie appressed to the stems, making shoots look rather worm-like.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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