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Polytrichum Piliferum

Polytrichum Piliferum, Vancouver Island, BC
Polytrichum Piliferum, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

Polytrichum Piliferum is also known by the common name bristly hair cap. When hiking the mountain trails on the BC coast, and you catch your first sight of this beautiful moss, you would be forgiven for thinking it was a tiny alpine flower, but this is a moss rather than a flowering plant. The red flower-like structures are splash cups, and they look quite impressive at the end of male plants in the spring, like beautiful, tiny flowers.

Splash cups are in reference to the fact that these structures aid with the dispersal of the plant’s sperm cells by rain. The rain hits the cup, and it sends the sperm cells out and away to form new growths.

The grayish-white hair points that extend from the leaf tips are an important feature that distinguishes this species from the otherwise very similar Polytrichum Juniperum.

The moss in the photo was growing on rock, in a dry, coniferous forest setting, this is a common habitat for this type of moss.

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