Common Extinguisher-moss - Encalypta vulgaris


    Shoots form loose tufts or cushions less than 1.5 cm tall. Leaves are about 3 mm long. Identifying this lowland plant of calcareous soils without capsules is very unsafe; fortunately, they are usually present. Young capsules persist for a considerable time, so are often found. Ripe capsules are smooth, have a rudimentary or absent peristome, and until maturity are entirely covered by a very large, unfringed calyptra. Capsules arise from between rosettes of broad, more or less parallel-sided, opaque, very matt leaves, abruptly narrowed to the tip. The nerve ends below the tip or is shortly excurrent.

    Similar Species

    The very large calyptra over the capsule confirms this as a species of Encalypta. It differs from E. ciliata by the unfringed calyptra, and from E. rhaptocarpa and E. streptocarpa by its smooth capsules. The very rare E. brevicollis has the upper part of the back of the nerve not shiny (because it is roughened), and its capsules have a peristome.

    Identification difficulty
    Identification aids


    The capsule is smooth (not spiral).


    The nerve is excurrent and the leaf edges narrow abruptly to the tip.

    Recording advice

    Good quality photographs required showing plant with capsules present.


    Chiefly on chalk and limestone in lowland areas.

    When to see it

    All year round.

    UK Status

    Widespread and fairly frequent in Britain.

    VC55 Status

    Status in Leicestershire and Rutland not known.

    species champion Our Champion for the Extinguisher Moss wishes to remain anonymous.

    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

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

    UK Map