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

Philonotis fontana (Hedw.) Brid.
spring moss (philonotis moss)

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

Introduction to the Bryophytes of BC

© Rod Innes  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #9233)

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Distribution of Philonotis fontana
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Species Information

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Illustration Source: Some Common Mosses of BC

Species description:
Genus name meaning lover of moisture, in reference to the wet habitat. Species name also referring to the habitat of springs and fountains.
Sporophytes occasional to locally abundant, reddish ­brown when mature; the sporangium erect, green and sub spherical when immature, but red-brown, inclined and regularly grooved when ripe. P. fontana, especially in humid, shaded sites, often produces masses of deciduous branches that serve in reproduction.
Distinguishing characteristics:
The tall, turf-like plants in wet habitats, tightly compacted with red-brown rhizoids, the male shoots termi­nated by a flower-like rosette of leaves and often bearing short lateral branchlets below this rosette, plus the round sporangia, grooved and inclined when dry, are useful features.
Forming dense, tall, bright yellow-green to golden-green turfs densely tangled with red rhizoids.
Similar Species:
P. capillaris is less than ¼ the size of P. fontana and grows on disturbed mineral soil. Other species of Philonotis are impos­sible to distinguish on field characters and are troublesome even with microscopic features. Conostomum, similar in some respects to Philonitis" tends to form hard, rounded tufts in well-drained sites and the stiff, leafy shoots have the leaves in five neat rows, thus differing from the soft mats of Philionitis.

Habitat / Range

Wet, seepage or springy sites over rock, gravels or cliff shelves, often terrestrial, from sea level to alpine elevations, always in open sites; sometimes forming extensive turfs along streams in alpine areas and covering wet cliffs and banks.
World Distribution

Circumpolar in the Northern Hemisphere; throughout North America.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Philonotis fontana var. seriata (Mitt.) Kindb.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References