Acute-leaved Bog-moss - Sphagnum capillifolium


Sphagnum capillifolium is split into two subspecies, though elsewhere in Europe and North America, these are interpreted as full species. Intermediate forms occur, so not all specimens will be identifiable to sub-species. Shoots of both sub-species are small to medium in size. The plants are all or mostly red, except if shaded, when they are green.

Sphagnum capillifolium subsp. capillifolium occurs in dense, firm, sometimes large hummocks. Individual shoots are often very slender, but packed tightly together, with convex to hemispherical capitula; hence the surface of the hummock is bumpy, like cauliflower florets, not smooth. Hummocks are so dense that it is difficult to extract single shoots with your fingers. Branch leaves are not (or scarcely) in straight lines and are straight (not turned to one side). On moist shoots, most branch stems cannot be seen through the branch leaves. Spreading branches are long, with a tapering, down-turned, white tip, consisting of elongated leaves without any pigmentation. Stem leaves are triangular at the tip, more than 1.2 mm long. Capsules are frequent.

Grows in extensive, loose carpets or in soft hummocks from which it is easy to extract single shoots by hand. Capitula are almost to markedly flat-topped and stellate. Some upper spreading branches are curved near the tip, as viewed from above, with leaves in straight lines, and turned to one side, especially towards the branch tip. On moist shoots, most branch stems are clearly visible through the branch leaves. If spreading branches have a white tip, this does not consist of elongated leaves. Stem leaves are somewhat rounded at the tip, less than 1.2 mm long. Capsules are rare.

Identification difficulty

Sphagnum capillifolium grows on bogs and heathland, in wet woodland, on well-drained mineral soils and shallow peat in humid places, for example in native pinewoods and on north-east- to north-west-facing, heather-dominated banks.

When to see it

All year round.

UK Status

Widespread in Britain, but true status is unclear at present.

VC55 Status

Status in Leicestershire and Rutland not known.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map

Species profile

Common names
Acute-leaved Bog-moss, Red Bog-moss
Species group:
Mosses & Liverworts
Records on NatureSpot:
First record:
28/03/2015 (Nicholls, David)
Last record:
28/03/2015 (Nicholls, David)

Total records by month

% of records within its species group

10km squares with records

The latest images and records displayed below include those awaiting verification checks so we cannot guarantee that every identification is correct. Once accepted, the record displays a green tick.

In the Latest Records section, click on the header to sort A-Z, and again to sort Z-A. Use the header boxes to filter the list.

Latest images

Latest records