Species of the Month - February 2019
mosses don't have English names, apart from an incredibly uninspired
list of artificial ones created a few years back. "Teddy-bear Moss" is an alternative name
given by bryologist Gordon Rothero to Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus, so
I am using it here. It is very apt with the moss's floppy head and
fat stiff arms.
This is a large
upright moss with red stems and numerous short branches often
curved slightly downwards. The leaves spread out at an angle
from the branches whether wet or dry. The leaves are not all
curved in the same direction as in R loreus, its very common
relative, but spread out evenly all round the branch. R
triquetrus has larger leaves than any of the species you're likely to confuse it with. Its stem leaves are usually about
5 mm long and the leaves on a well-grown branch will be 3 mm or
long. If your moss looks like R triquetrus and has leaves of
the right length then you have it!
The stem leaves are very broad just above the base and then taper evenly to a long narrow tip. The leaf surface is pleated. The branch leaves are similar but not so broad.
This moss is most
frequent in the north and west of Britain. It suffered severely
from pollution in the more industrial areas, but is now
returning to them. In our area it is common in fairly open
woodland or on semi-shaded banks. It can grow on acid,
neutral or calcareous soil. It can also occur on open
hillsides where it may be less upright and harder to recognise.
rather stubby one from Inverawe on the left, and Jan Hamilton's
beautiful photo from LNHG's 2015 North Shian field trip on the right.
Frozen teddy-bears from our trip down to the woods in Feb 2010 at Glen Gallain
For more info on Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus see the British Bryological Society species page
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