Polytrichum piliferum Hedw.
awned haircap moss (polytrichum moss)

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

Introduction to the Bryophytes of BC


© Bryan Kelly-McArthur     (Photo ID #87562)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Polytrichum piliferum
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Species Information

Species description:
Species name referring to the white hair points of the leaves.
P. piliferum is extremely tolerant of long periods of dryness and, in the dry condition, of extremely high temperatures in its open sunny habitat. It, like P. juniperinum, is a reliable indicator of nutrient ­poor soil.
Distinguishing characteristics:
The very long, white hair point and in­curved blade of the leaf over the lamellae, mark this species of sterile habitats.
Plants usually bluish-green, forming relatively short turfs 10-20 mm tall with wine-reddish stems; sometimes the whole plant, except the long, white hair points of the leaves, tinged with red.
Similar Species:
P. piliferum resembles P. juniperium in many respects. In P. piliferum, the white hair points are usually much longer (about 1/8 the length of the leaf) and taper abruptly from the body of the leaf; those of P. juniperinum are red, usually less than 1/8 of the leaf length and taper gradually from the body of the leaf. P. strictum is a miniature version of P. juniperinum, differing from it in its abundant felting of rhizoids along much of the stem length, its leaves that are generally half the size of those of P. juniperinum and in its usually boggy habitat.


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

Shallow soil over outcrops, open sandy soil of banks and dis­turbed areas from sea level to alpine elevations.
World Distribution

Cosmopolitan, more frequent in temperate and frigid climates.