Rhynchostegium megapolitanum

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Identification notes

This yellowish pleurocarp can be found most easily on sand dunes, and here, perhaps it looks at its most ‘natural’. However, do not despair if you live inland, especially in southern England. The trick now is to search scrupulously in really boring-looking areas – lawns in cemeteries, dull, neatly mown grassy borders of flower beds by locks and municipal flower beds or gardens, edges of otherwise uninspiring arable fields, perhaps with a whiff of chalky soil in the air. Here, on hands and knees, look for a moss that you would otherwise ignore – a lot like Brachythecium rutabulum or a slightly funny looking Rhynchostegium confertum, the sort you wouldn’t bend down to look at if walking along. Don’t get too excited just yet, even though I’m painting such a thrilling picture, but those widely-spaced leaves… do they stick out from the stem at a rakish angle (unlike eg Brachythecium albicans)? Are they really, really heart shaped, the base joining the stem at a right angle, the leaf tip fine and often twisted?

If you can find fruit, the capsule should be beaked (ruling out Brachytheciums) and the seta smooth.  It may not seem that exciting, but once you’ve got your eye in for it, this is not an uncommon moss and you can feel justly proud that you are one of the few that doesn’t overlook it.  Remember, dull habitat and dull appearance – what’s not to like?

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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