Common Haircap Moss - Polytrichum commune


    Well grown, large, hummocks or turfs of this species are unmistakable. They consist of tough, wiry shoots up to 40 cm long (usually about 20 cm). When moist, the 8 to 12 mm long, narrowly spearhead shaped leaves spread or strongly curve away from the stem, with a glossy sheathing base, giving a starry appearance viewed from above. When dry, the margins become inrolled, wavy and gently twist around the stems. The margins are sharply toothed. The 4-angled, box-like capsule, produced in summer, is borne on a long (to 12 cm), reddish seta.

    Identification difficulty
    ID guidance

    The shape of the leaf tips need to be examined with a microscope or good hand lens to check they are pointed and without any indent at the tip.


    Found in a wide range of damp, acidic habitats, tolerating shade and moderate amounts of pollution and nutrient enrichment.

    When to see it

    All year round

    UK Status

    Widespread and frequent in most of Britain.

    VC55 Status

    Fairly frequent in Leicestershire and Rutland.

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    Leicestershire & Rutland Map

    MAP KEY:

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

    UK Map