Leucodon sciuroides

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Identification notes

In areas of lowland England, this fine moss is almost restricted to base-rich gravestones and walls in churchyards. In less polluted areas to the west and north, though still uncommon, it can be found as an epiphyte of trees with base-rich bark as well as on basic rocks. It stands out, literally, especially when dry, forming long curved brownish-green shoots up to several centimetres long, sparsely branched and with tightly appressed leaves. If you spot it, summon non-bryologists to gather round. Upon application of a few squirts from the trusty bryologists’ spray bottle, the leaves spring out in truly spectacular fashion, almost instantaneously taking up a stance at an angle of about 45 degrees to the stem. Hours of fun there for friends and family too. The leaves themselves are about 3mm long, ovate-lanceolate, distinctly plicate and nerveless. Occasionally, tufts of tiny propaguliferous branchlets nestle between the leaves of the shoot tips. There aren’t really any other species that look much like this, although the casual observer (whom we shun), might suggest Pulvigera lyellii whose shoots also curve away from the substrate in an eye-catching manner. On closer examination this latter species has nerved leaves, of course, and a sprinkling of characteristic brownish gemmae. You will soon get the hang of this one.

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Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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