Plagiothecium denticulatum (Hedw.) B.S.G.
dented silk-moss (toothed plagiothecium moss)

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

Introduction to the Bryophytes of BC


© Rosemary Taylor     (Photo ID #42668)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Plagiothecium denticulatum
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Species Information

Species description:
Genus name describing the obliquely oriented sporangia of many species. Species name referring to the teeth at the leaf apex.
Sporophytes occasional, light brown when ripe; maturing in spring.
Distinguishing characteristics:
The flattened, glossy, pale to dark green plants, the leaves that lack an obvious midrib (the double midrib is usually obscure), the abruptly pointed leaf apex and the elongate, slightly curved sporangium are useful distinguishing features.
Forming glossy, flattened, pale green to dark green, creeping shoots in which leaves are slightly or not undulate.
Similar Species:
Plagiothecium laetum closely resembles P. denticulatum but is usually much smaller and found most frequently on shaded, rot­ten logs; P. denticulatum is frequently on humid rock surfaces. Micro­scopic details, especially the cells of the leaf base as they extend down the stem, are the most useful identification features: in P. denticulatum these cells are thin-walled and swollen; in P. laetum they are not swol­len. P. cavifolium usually has somewhat turgid, instead of flattened, shoots and is mainly terrestrial or in cliff crevices. Porotrichum bigelovii also has flattened leafy shoots, like Plagiothecium denticulatum, and occurs on damp cliffs, but the leaves have a strong midrib, tend to diverge almost at right angles to the stem (those of the Plagiothecium diverge at an acute angle toward the shoot apex), and the shoots are wiry, compared to the soft shoots of Plagiothecium. Hookeria lucens and H. acutifolia show the outlines of the leaf cells clearly under lOX mag­nification and lack the decurrent bases present in Plagiothecium denticulatum. Rhynchostegium serrulatum, extremely rare in British Co­lumbia, has a midrib and the leaves have toothed margins. See also notes under Neckera, Metaneckera and Plagiothecium undulatum.


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

Most frequent on humid, shaded cliffs but also terrestrial and on tree bases; rarely on rotten logs.
World Distribution

Circumpolar in the Northern Hemisphere, also in Africa and Australasia; widely distributed in North America.


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Plagiothecium curvifolium auct. Amer.
Plagiothecium denticulatum var. aptychus (Spruce) Lees
Plagiothecium denticulatum var. bullulae Grout
Plagiothecium denticulatum var. donii Lindb.
Plagiothecium denticulatum var. laetum (Schimp.) Lindb.
Plagiothecium denticulatum var. majus (Boul.) Delogne
Plagiothecium denticulatum var. obtusifolium (Turn.) Moore
Plagiothecium denticulatum var. tenellum Schimp.
Plagiothecium denticulatum var. undulatum Ruthe ex Geh.
Plagiothecium ruthei auct. Amer.