Acute-leaved Bog-moss - Sphagnum capillifolium subsp 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. However, typical examples of the two subspecies differ in several characters, and can be identified in the field. 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.

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.

be our species champion

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


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

UK Map