Atrichum selwynii Aust.
crane's-bill moss (Selwyn's atrichum moss)

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

Introduction to the Bryophytes of BC


© Rod Innes     (Photo ID #9001)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Atrichum selwynii
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Species Information

Species description:
Genus name from the hairless calyptra, compared to the hairy calyptra of Polytrichum. Species named in honour.of A. R. C. Selwyn, director of the Geological Survey of Canada from 1869 to 1895.
Sporophytes common and abundant; seta and sporangium reddish-brown, maturing in late winter to early spring.
Distinguishing characteristics:
The extremely low lamellae on the midrib, the teeth in diagonal lines on the lower leaf surface, the markedly con­torted leaves when dry, combined with the smooth calyptra distinguish this genus from others related to it.
Forming loose turfs of light to dark green plants with sporophyte-bearing plants in colonies usually somewhat separate from male plants.
Similar Species:
From A. undulatum it is most readily distinguished by the sharper marginal teeth and more sharply acute apices compared to the blunter points of A. selwynii. From A. tenellum it differs in nar­rower leaves that are more acute than in A. selwynii; the sporangium is usually also shorter in A. tenet/um. A. selwynii is the common species in non-urban sites near the coast while A. undulatum is a frequent urban "weed" of gardens and road margins. Oligotrichum parallelum of subal­pine sites has less acute teeth on the leaf margins and sporophytes are usually light green, rather than dark brown, when mature. Comments: This genus is sometimes transplanted to Japanese tea gar­dens as an attractive ground cover.


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.

Illustration SourceSome Common Mosses of BC

Habitat and Range

Common on humid mineral soil of disturbed areas, roadsides, banks and near watercourses in open to woodland sites; frequent in flower gardens and on soils disturbed by bulldozing, road cuts, trail margins, and roots of overturned trees. Frequent near the coast; infrequent in the interior, mainly at lower elevations.
World Distribution

Endemic to western North America from south­western Alaska southward into California and eastward to Manitoba.


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Atrichum rosulatum C. Mnll. & Kindb. in Mac. & Kindb.
Atrichum undulatum var. selwynii (Aust.) Frye in Grout