Lesser Cow-horn Bog-moss - Sphagnum inundatum


A medium to large species. In open habitats Sphagnum inundatum appears golden orange-brown, while in shade it is yellow-green or all green. The capitulum is somewhat stellate, with outer branches straight or curved only at the tip. The branch leaves are spreading, not appressed to the branch, giving the capitulum and upper branches a spiky appearance, hence, despite the common name, not looking like cows’ horns. On the lower part of the branches, some leaves are asymmetrical, the upper half turned to one side when viewed from above. Fascicles usually have 5 or more branches, all with well-developed leaves. Typically there are 2 strongly divergent branches, 2 deflexed to pendent, and 1 more or less hanging vertically down the stem. The stem is dark brown to almost black, or green in shaded forms. Stem leaves are nearly always more or less triangular. The whole shoot is about 10 to 15 mm wide and parallel-sided. Capsules are occasional.

Identification difficulty

Despite its name, it is rarely found submerged. It occurs in slightly more base-rich habitats than Sphagnum denticulatum, for example poor fens, swampy ground, mildly base-rich pools, in ditches and at the edges of flushes.

When to see it

All year round.

UK Status

Widespread and fairly frequent in Britain, but less common in parts of central and eastern England.

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