Schistostega pennata (Hedw.) Web. & Mohr
goblin's gold (schistostega moss)

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

Introduction to the Bryophytes of BC


© Adolf Ceska     (Photo ID #20432)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Schistostega pennata
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Species Information

Species description:
The genus name based on a wrong observation that the operculum splits. Species name describing the feather-like appearance of the vegetative leafy plant.
Sometimes called luminous moss or fairy gold, based on the protonema that glows yellow-green from reflected light.
Distinguishing characteristics:
The very tiny plants with leaves clearly in two rows and laterally fused at the base, the seemingly leafless lower portion of the shoots, the tiny sub spherical sporangia that lack peri­stome teeth, added to the very shaded habitat and the "luminous" protonema, when present, are distinctive features.
Short turfs, loosely affixed to substratum; the protonema glows with reflected light, producing a light yellow-green sheen on the substratum.
Similar Species:
Small species of Pissidens can resemble S. pennata but the leaves of Pissiden show a clear sheathing flap and a midrib, and bright red peristome teeth are characteristic in the elongate sporangium.


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

Shaded cliff crevices or, more commonly, on shaded sterile mineral soil of overturned tree roots in swampy forests and near water­courses from near sea level to sub alpine forests.
World Distribution

Circumtemperate but widely scattered in the Northern Hemisphere; in North America from Newfoundland to southern Alaska and, in the east, southward to New York and Ohio; in the west to Washington.