Microbryum rectum

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Identification notes

Whilst it would certainly be an exaggeration to describe this moss as ‘such a feast of sensation as rarely falls to the lot of the field bryologist’, then again, it is very, very cute. To find it, you will need to get down on your hands and knees in an area of disturbed calcareous soil in southern Britain, and really look closely at any tiny plants peeping out amongst short blades of grass.

Amusingly but correctly, the Field Guide refers to the ’conspicuous, large, red-brown capsule’, which is indeed the first thing you will spot. It is roughly spherical, a little over 0.5mm diameter, with a barely perceptible lid and short point. The seta is about 1mm long, raising the capsule above the tiny cluster of spearhead-shaped leaves (about 1mm long) like a miniature toffee-apple. The whole plant rises to an impressive height of about 2mm, so you really are looking for the small stuff here and not likely to spot it from eye level.

Take back a sample of this moss when you first encounter it, as you need to separate it carefully from some other species of similar habitats, mentioned in and dealt with on the Field Guide page. None of the others has the combination of tiny stature, noticeably spherical, exserted capsule without a lid, on a straight seta. Tiny as it is, you will soon learn to recognize it – a little beauty.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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