Polytrichum juniperinum

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Identification notes

This is not normally a difficult moss to identify but it’s definitely a good idea to be aware of a couple of really good identification characters to fall back on. There’s a temptation to think that small plants with reddish-tipped leaves in dry places will always be P. juniperinum. However – beware of imposters! Sometimes P. formosum can be quite stunted and there is definitely an overlap in the height range of both species. Similarly, P. perigoniale is often only a few centimetres tall and likes tracks and other dry places.

Begin by examining the leaves with a hand-lens. While P. juniperinum has entire leaf margins (except for the very tip), P. formosum and P. perigoniale are both toothed. Job done!

Another really useful field character of P. juniperinum that deserves to be better known is the way that the margins curve in over the upper surface and even overlap near the leaf tip.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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