O. speciosum is one of those pleurocarpous mosses that often looks like something more common…perhaps Brachythecium rutabulum, which is often a similar size or O. hians, normally a little smaller. The trick to finding it is to track down its favourite kind of wet habitat, often in bryologically unappealing places where there are few other bryophytes. Pond-sedge swamps, shallow pools, reed-beds, disused canals and wet ditches are favourite places and here it may be spotted straggling around on the ground or on rotting wood and plant litter.
Plants are normally mid to dark green in colour and when well-grown their branches look a little flattened. You can tell it’s an Oxyrrhynchium by the ovate stem leaves which are coarsely toothed from base to tip and differ little in shape from the branch leaves.
O. speciosum is normally a more robust plant than O. hians, but in sterile material the clincher is the length of the mid-leaf cells, which are longer in O. speciosum than in O. hians. Besides, although it is a ubiquitous plant in the lowlands, O. hians is rarely found in the wet habitats preferred by O. speciosum.Read the Field Guide account