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Polytrichum commune

Haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
DivisionBryophytaMosses
SubdivisionMusciMosses (all 12,000 of them)
ClassBryopsidaMosses with arthrodontous spore capsules, which is most of them
SubclassBryidaeMosses with a double peristome with alternating tooth segments
OrderPolytrichalesA group of mosses which tend to be among the larger ones, with a thickened central stem and root
FamilyPolytrichaceaeA group of mosses which tend to be among the larger ones, with a thickened central stem and root
GenusPolytrichumFrom Greek poly, “many,” trichum, “hair”
SpeciescommuneFrom Latin communis, growing in communities

About plant names...

This moss is very common in habitats that receive adequate moisture. It prefers bogs, forest stream edges, and similar moist, somewhat shaded habitats. If it remains wet, it tolerates full sun.

Plants: These mosses form extensive dense, verdant soft carpets. Individual plants are often 1¾-4" (5-10 cm) in height, and can exceed 12" (30 cm). Stems are usually unbranched.

Leaves: Leaves are ⅛-¼" (6-8 mm), rarely up to ⅜" (1.2 cm) in length. They are long and narrow, erect when dry and curved when wet, dark green to brown in old age. They are crescent-shaped in cross-section, resembling miniature Aloe vera leaves. Viewed from above, the sharp leaves look starlike, and they are arranged in a spiral around the stem.

Fruits: Thin green or red stems called seta are 1¾-3½" (5-9 cm) long. They support a green to golden brown fibrous bundle, the calyptra. The calyptra is about ⅛-⅜" (5-10 mm) tall and ⅛" (4 mm) around, with a sharp tip. The calyptra encloses the capsule, a structure ¹/₁₆-³/₁₆" (3-6 mm) long, somewhat cubical, that is brown to dark red-brown.

Online References:

Polytrichum commune on tolweb.org

Polytrichum commune on Wikipedia

Polytrichum commune on beta.floranorthamerica.org

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

6/15/2012 · Townsend State Forest, Townsend, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 3½ × 2½' (1.2 × 0.8 m)

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

About 2" x 1.75". · 9/5/2021 · Townsend State Forest, Townsend, Mass­a­chu­setts

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

About .5" x .5". · 9/5/2021 · Townsend State Forest, Townsend, Mass­a­chu­setts

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

8/7/2013 · Amos Kendall Conservation Land, Dunstable, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm)

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

About 0.75" x 0.75". · 9/5/2021 · Townsend State Forest, Townsend, Mass­a­chu­setts

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

8/12/2009 · Pearl Hill State Park, Townsend, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

8/7/2013 · Amos Kendall Conservation Land, Dunstable, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm)

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

7/15/2020 · Cathance River Nature Preserve Trails, Highland Green, Topsham, Maine
≈ 10 × 6" (24 × 16 cm)

 

Polytrichum commune description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 6 Sep 2021.

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Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

7/28/2013 · Andres Institute of Art, Big Bear Mountain, Brookline, New Hamp­shire
≈ 8 × 7" (19 × 16 cm)

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

6/15/2012 · Townsend State Forest, Townsend, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm)

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

About 3" x 3.5". · 9/5/2021 · Townsend State Forest, Townsend, Mass­a­chu­setts

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

8/7/2013 · Amos Kendall Conservation Land, Dunstable, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 10 × 7" (25 × 16 cm)

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

6/8/2012 · Townsend Wildlife Management Area, Townsend, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 7 × 11" (18 × 27 cm)

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

7/12/2015 · Mt. Kearsarge, Wilmot/Warner, New Hamp­shire
≈ 10 × 7" (25 × 16 cm)

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

4/9/2021 · Bowdoin Schiller Coastal Studies Center, Orr’s Island, Maine
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 12 cm)

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

The two darker-colored plants have male "splash cups" on top, where sperm is produced. · 9/29/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 4½ × 3" (11 × 7.9 cm) ID is uncertain

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

About 3" x 3". · 9/5/2021 · Townsend State Forest, Townsend, Mass­a­chu­setts

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

About 2" x 1.75". · 9/5/2021 · Townsend State Forest, Townsend, Mass­a­chu­setts

Polytrichum commune (haircap moss, common haircap moss, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks)

8/7/2013 · Amos Kendall Conservation Land, Dunstable, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 10 × 7" (25 × 16 cm)

Range:

About this map...