Tortella squarrosa

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Identification notes

Formerly Pleurochaete squarrosa, but like other species of Tortella, the basal marginal cells of this species contrast sharply with the adjacent green cells.

If you find this plant, the chances are you are in very nice and well-grazed semi-natural habitat, so it’s also worth looking for other interesting bryophytes nearby. Tortella squarrosa is a warmth-demanding moss and is usually restricted to south or west-facing places, with sloping, well-drained calcareous ground being a particular favourite.

Often its colour catches the eye in the turf – typically bright yellow-green, rather like a large Barbula unguiculata or T. flavovirens (if you are near the sea). It gets its specific name – squarrosa – from the way the stem leaves curve backwards and this helps to set it apart from similar-looking species. Plants crisp up really quickly in dry and/or windy weather but also rehydrate quickly if you spray them.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

Coastal habitats offer this moss the temperate conditions it likes best but it is also occasionally found inland on sheltered summer-parched grassland.

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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