Orthotrichum stramineum

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Identification notes

In many areas, it is one of the last of the widespread Orthotrichum (and Lewinskya) species to mature its capsules, which are plump-looking, pale and eye-catchingly dark-tipped. Look for them ideally between March and May. Immature capsules are typically skinny-looking and can easily be confused with Lewinskya affinis, although the cushions are normally smaller and neater-looking than the more open tufts of that plant. If you are in any doubt and are deft of finger, pull off perichaetial leaves around the seta and you should see a few long whitish hairs arising from the base of the seta. These do not normally stick above the perichaetial leaves and many will find it much easier to search for the hairs with forceps under a dissecting microscope.

O. stramineum likes base-rich bark and can often be found on well-illuminated horizontal or inclined branches of such trees as ash and willows, especially where there is some shelter. In such places, it may be a member of a diverse community of epiphytic mosses and liverworts.


Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

This charming little epiphyte is one of a handful of not-so-ubiquitous cushion-formers that has gained ground in recent years, appearing more commonly in the south and east, areas where it may have previously been lost due to its sensitivity to sulphur dioxide and other airborne pollutants.

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

Resources you may find useful

The Bryophyte identification page under Resources contains additional resources on the genus Orthotrichum.

Bryophyte identification resources

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