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

Dendroalsia abietina (Hook.) Britt.
plume moss (dendroalsia moss)

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

Introduction to the Bryophytes of BC

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #81084)

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Distribution of Dendroalsia abietina
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Species Information

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Illustration Source: Some Common Mosses of BC

Species description:
Genus name based on the tree-like outline of the branched shoots and the resemblance of the plants to the moss genus Alsia. Spe­cies name referring to the fancied resemblance of the plant outline to a fir tree (Abies).
Sporophytes red-brown, frequent, maturing in late winter to early spring, arising on a short seta on the undersurface of the shoots. Male and female plants separate.
Distinguishing characteristics:
The distinctive dark green, epiphytic, miniature, feather-like plants are unlikely to be confused with any other moss in western North America. The dry, downward coiled plants are also characteristic.
Forming extensive downward-pointing, dark green, densely pinnate shoots in which the lower portion of the shoot lacks branches; branches mainly arising in a single plane. Plants coiling downward to­ward the substratum when dry. Male plants usually with numerous lat­eral, bulb-like, sexual branches that are light green to straw-coloured.
Similar Species:
Some specimens of Isothecium stoloniferum, when moist and without sporophytes, occasionally resemble Dendroalsia, but I. stoloniferum is pale rather than dark green and the sporophytes arise on elongate setae from the upper surface of the main shoot.

Habitat / Range

Usually epiphytic, especially on tree trunks, most frequently on broad-leafed maple and Garry oak, but also on other trees, includ­ing poplar. Sometimes on somewhat shaded cliffs
World Distribution

Restricted to western North America, reaching its northern limit in southern British Columbia, mainly near the coast, but found eastward to Idaho and southward to Baja California.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References