Pogonatum aloides

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Identification notes

This common acrocarp likes disturbed places on acid soils and is at its best in late winter through to early spring, when its capsules mature. The drum-like membrane across the mouth of the capsule is nearly white and certainly catches the eye when plants are growing densely on a bank or perhaps soil on the exposed root-ball of a fallen tree.

Without capsules, plants can still be readily recognised as Pogonatum by their short, fleshy-looking leaves. Mature capsules are needed to differentiate P. aloides from the much scarcer P. nanum, which sometimes grows near the coast. Although the shape of the capsule is usually cited as the best distinguishing character, sometimes P. aloides has quite short capsules and a more reliable feature is needed. On the surface of the capsule of P. aloides, there are numerous tall papillae which can be seen by holding the capsule up to the light and examining its profile with a good x 20 hand-lens. Pogonatum nanum, which has capsules more or less as wide (at the mouth) as long, has finely papillose capsule cells (best confirmed microscopically).

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Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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