Pogonatum contortum (Brid.) Lesq.
contorted pogonatum moss

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

Introduction to the Bryophytes of BC


© Rosemary Taylor     (Photo ID #42659)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Pogonatum contortum
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Species Information

Species description:
Genus name meaning born with a beard, in reference to the hairy calyptra. Species name describing the leaves that become contorted when dry.
Sporophytes frequent, maturing in early spring, with the red-brown sporangia sheathed by a whitish, hairy calyptra.
Distinguishing characteristics:
The dark green plants with leaves diverging outward exposing a wide flat surface, the many teeth on leaf margins, the strong contorting on the leaf margins, the strong contorting of the leaves, when dry, and the sporangia (circular in cross section) all serve as useful distinguishing features.
Tall, loose to dense turfs of dark green, unbranched plants with leaves strongly divergent when humid, much contorted when dry. When young, a green webbing of protonema stabilizes the sandy substrata and scattered small shoots are produced. This protonema disappears when the turfs become continuous.
Similar Species:
See also notes under Polytrichum commune, P. alpinum and Atrichum selwynii.


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

Commonly on disturbed mineral soil of shaded banks, espe­cially in forest areas, but from sea-level to open alpine elevations
World Distribution

Southeast Asia and western North America; in North America from southeast Alaska to California eastward to eastern British Columbia.


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Pogonatum laterale Schimp.