Pseudoscleropodium purum

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Identification notes

One of our commonest large pleurocarps, Pseudoscleropodium purum is surprisingly catholic in its habitat preferences, but is often found where there is shelter. So it can be equally at home, for example, in north-facing calcareous grassland or among heather on hilly slopes. It’s most often found in association with other large pleurocarps such as Hylocomiadelphus triquetrus, Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus, Hylocomium splendens and Calliergonella cuspidata.

Few other robust pleurocarps have the overlapping, concave leaves of this moss, or its rather neatly pinnate branching habit. The stems and branches always look a little swollen and smooth thanks to way the leaves are crowded and neatly overlap each other, a physiological adaptation to retain water for as long as possible.

P. purum is normally so easy to recognise that close inspection with a hand-lens is rarely necessary. There is however potential to confuse it with two lookalikes, with which it sometimes grows, but then its unique leaf shape will immediately set it apart. It has ovate, strongly concave leaves which are rounded at the tip below a very short point that is often recurved (most obvious at the shoot tips). Neither Entodon concinnus, which it sometimes grows with in basic habitats, nor Pleurozium schreberi, which can be an associate in heath/moorland and acid grassland have that leaf shape.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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