Racomitrium canescens

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Identification notes

This beautiful moss is alone in our Racomitrium species in preferring strongly lime-rich substrates where it is frequently associated with Flexitrichum gracile and other calcicoles. Its strikingly white hair-points are very obvious and contrast with the rest of the leaf. It is one of a group of three similar-looking species that form ‘lawns’ of erect, much-branched shoots with numerous short, stubby branches. They all have matt-looking leaves and this is because their leaf cells are densely papillose (and amazing to look at in transverse section as the photos below show). The other two – R. ericoides and R. elongatum – look similar but are more commonly plants of acid substrates.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

R. canescens can often be found in man-made but stable habitat, such as the floor of worked-out limestone quarries and firing ranges over chalk.

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

Resources you may find useful

Frisvoll, A.A. 1983. A taxonomic revision of the Racomitrium canescens group (Bryophyta, Grimmiales). Gunneria 41: 1-183.

Detailed descriptions of the species in the R. canescens group, with illustrations.

Download from the Gunneria website

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