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

Racomitrium canescens (Hedw.) Brid.
grey rock-moss (racomitrium moss)

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

Introduction to the Bryophytes of BC
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Distribution of Racomitrium canescens
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Species Information

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Illustration Source: Some Common Mosses of BC

Species description:
Species name referring to the grayish appearance of dried plants.
Sporophytes occasional, dark red-brown when mature. The plants are readily fragmented when dry; these fragments undoubtedly serve in propagation.
Distinguishing characteristics:
The dull, yellow-green plants with regular, short, side branches and white hair points on the leaves, plus the well­ lit, rapidly drying habitat, make this a moss that can be recognized even from a rapidly moving vehicle. The extensive bright patches on rock and exposed open banks of roads are especially conspicuous after rainfall.
Forming bright, yellow-green mats or rounded tufts of suberect to reclining plants, usually bearing many blunt lateral branches; plants whitish yellow to nearly white when dry, resulting from the white hair points as well as the ornamentation of leaf cell surfaces. Loosely affixed to substratum.
Similar Species:
This name includes a complex of species that are not easily recognized on field characters. In British Columbia the common species is R. elongatum but R. erieoides is also frequent. At high eleva­tions R. mutieum is frequent but lacks the white hair points of R. eanes­eens. R. lanuginosum is superficially similar but hand lens examination of the hair points shows them to lack acute teeth and to possess rather obtuse teeth. The short lateral branches in R. lanuginosum are also very few in most specimens and the plants, when moist, are not yellow-green but dark green to brownish ­green.

Habitat / Range

Open, dry, sandy soil of banks, over rock surfaces, among stones and on boulders and outcrops subject to complete drying, also in open forests, especially pine. From sea level to sub alpine elevations.
World Distribution

Europe westward to central Asia and in North America from Newfoundland southward to the New England states and westward to the Great Lakes, in the west from Alaska southward to Oregon and eastward into the Rocky Mountains as far south as Colorado.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Rhacomitrium canescens (Hedw.) Brid.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References