White-tipped Bristle-moss - Orthotrichum diaphanum


The white leaf tip of O. diaphanum is immediately diagnostic within the genus and makes this very common species look more like a Schistidium than an Orthotrichum. It grows in small tufts of narrow, upright shoots, up to 1 cm tall, usually with abundant capsules. Leaves are 2.5 to 4 mm long, and capsules are 1.5 mm long. Unripe capsules are covered by a hairless, light green calyptra, whilst ripe capsules are light brown and slightly furrowed when old and dry. The 16 light brown outer peristome teeth are reflexed when dry.

Identification difficulty

Very common on trees and shrubs in lowland Britain, especially on elders but also on willows (particularly by streams) and on other trees. This is a particularly common plant in town centres, where it is just as much at home on concrete, rocks, brick walls and other inorganic structures. It grows in similar situations in farmyards in the open countryside. Even on remote moorland it is possible to find O. diaphanum on concrete gate posts, probably because birds frequently perch on them.

When to see it

All year round.

UK Status

Quite common and widespread in Britain.

VC55 Status

Fairly common in Leicestershire and Rutland.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


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

UK Map