E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Abietinella abietina (Hedw.) Fleisch.
wiry fern-moss (abietinella moss)

Species Account Author: Wilf Schofield
Extracted from Some Common Mosses of British Columbia

Introduction to the Bryophytes of BC

© Gerry & Wendy Ansell  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #70920)

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Distribution of Abietinella abietina
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The wiry fern-moss is a circumboreal species found in Eurasia and North America. In British Columbia, it has been collected from across the province, including the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii).

Species Information

Click on the image below to view an expanded illustration for this species.

Illustration Source: Some Common Mosses of BC

Species description:
Genus name derived from Abies (fir tree) based on its fancied re­semblance to a diminutive fir tree. The species name has the same deri­vation.
Sporophytes rare, maturing in summer. Sporangium short cylindric and curved, red-brown when ripe; seta smooth, red­brown, elongate. Plants somewhat brittle when dry, probably frag­ments serve in vegetative reproduction.
Distinguishing characteristics:
The usually dark green to brownish-green, regularly pinnate plants that occur in drier terrestrial sites usually suffi­cient to distinguish this species.
Reclining or suberect interwoven plants, yellow-green to rusty brown to yellowish; never glossy; when wet the leaves diverge and the plant appears brighter green, upon drying the shoots seem more slen­der and the leaves sheathe the stem more closely
Similar Species:
Helodium blandowii is similar in appearance, but this species is in damp sites and the green stems are often covered with paraphyllia readily visible with a hand lens. In Abietinella, paraphyllia are small and usually obscured by overlapping leaves, and the stems are reddish. Claopodium may also be confused with A. abietina but the two species of similar size (c. bolanderi and C. crispifolium) have stem leaves with attenuate sharp white points; in Abietinella the apices are never at­tenuate or white. In CIao podium the leaves are contorted when dry; in Abietinella they are simply imbricate.

Habitat / Range

Dry, usually open, sites in well-drained forest, on cliff shelves and tundra, especially on calcareous substrata; more frequent in inte­rior and northern localities; rare near the coast.
World Distribution

Circumboreal in Eurasia and North America; ex­tending, in North America, southward along mountains to Virginia in the east and Arizona in the west.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Hypnum abietinum Hedw.
Thuidium abietinum (Hedw.) Schimp.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References