Whitish Feather-moss - Brachythecium albicans


B. albicans is a distinctive moss because of its pale whitish-green or yellow-green, string-like shoots. The plants are sparsely branched, commonly 2 to 5 cm long, with tall, mostly erect branches. Their string-like appearance is due to the long but rather slender branches (to about 1 mm wide) and the leaves being appressed and closely overlapping, both when moist and dry. These are egg-shaped, about 1.5 to 2 mm long, with a long, fine tip and a single nerve ceasing above mid-leaf. The tip, unlike the rest of the leaf, tends to spread slightly outwards, or less often is slightly curved to the side. The leaf surface is slightly pleated, but this is not always very obvious. The capsules have a smooth seta, but are rarely present.

Identification difficulty

B. albicans is characteristic of light, well-drained, base-poor soils, especially sand. It is frequent in dunes by the coast. It also occurs in short turf in pastures and over rocks, and less often by waysides and waste ground. Although primarily a plant of acidic substrates, it can also occur on leached soil over limestone, and other base-rich rocks. It is a plant of open habitats and rarely occurs in shade.

When to see it

All year round.

UK Status

Widespread and fairly frequent in Britain.

VC55 Status

Fairly frequent 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