Orthotrichum lyellii Hook. & Tayl.
Lyell's bristle-moss (Lyell's orthotrichum moss)

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

Introduction to the Bryophytes of BC


© Rosemary Taylor     (Photo ID #43728)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Orthotrichum lyellii
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Species Information

Species description:
Genus name denoting the straight, erect hairs on the calyptra of many species. Species named in honour of C. Lyell (1767 -1849), a British botanist and father of the famous geologist of the same name. Habit: Forming tufts of dark green plants attached at the base by rhizoids.
Sporophytes frequent, pale brown to dark brown when maturing in spring; also producing tiny gemmae on the leaves.
Distinguishing characteristics:
The open tufts, the epiphytic habitat, the grooved (when mature) sporangia that are barely emergent from perichaetial leaves, the white per is tome teeth, and the long narrow leaves are useful features.
Epiphytic on living trees, especially alder, maple and oak, bur also on spruce, hemlock, yew and yellow cedar, most frequent near sea level on the coast, but rare in humid forests of the interior.
Similar Species:
There are many species of Orthotrichum in British Columbia, and many are epiphytic. In O. lyellii, however, male and female plants are separate and the male plants bear distinctive bulb-like branches. Male plants are usually present near female plants. O. striatum, of similar habitats, has sporangia that are not grooved when mature.


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

World Distribution

Scattered through Europe southward to the Mediterranean area of North Africa and western Asia; in North AmerĀ­ica confined to west of the Rocky Mountains from southeastern Alaska to Baja California, eastward to Idaho.


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Orthotrichum lyellii var. papillosum (Hampe) Sull.
Orthotrichum papillosum Hampe