Hornschuch's Beard-moss - Pseudocrossidium hornschuchianum

Alt Name
Barbula hornschuchiana

A small, bright green plant, up to about 1–1.5 cm tall, this species grows in low tufts or patches. Viewed from above, the spreading leaves give the shoots a rather star-like appearance. Individual leaves are slightly over 1 mm long, have a triangular shape, tapering steadily from the base to an acute tip where the nerve extends to make a short point. A distinctive characteristic for this species is to be found in the leaf margins: instead of just being curved back somewhat, as they are in many species, the leaf margins are rolled back rather like a little scroll. This rolling almost reaches the nerve at the leaf tip, and can be seen most clearly on the back of the leaf. Capsules in this species are rather rare. They are narrowly elliptical and held upright on an orange-red seta.

Similar Species

P. revolutum  has similarly broad, greatly recurved leaf margins, but its leaves do not taper so sharply and are bluntly tipped; nor do the leaves spread as much as in P. hornschuchianum, so its shoots do not have a star-like appearance. Small, green forms of Ceratodon purpureus differ in having leaves slightly longer (1.5 to 2 mm) relative to their width, and margins less widely curved back under the leaf blade.

Photo ID?

This plant is most commonly found on compacted soil or stony ground at the edge of paths, more rarely on old walls. In more natural habitats it grows on calcareous substrates where the ground is open and well-lit.

When to see it

All year round.

UK Status

Fairly common in England and Wales, it becomes less frequent in northern England, Scotland and Ireland.

VC55 Status

Fairly frequent in Leicestershire and Rutland.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map

UK Map