Quick facts

Common name(s): common striated feather-moss

Scientific name: Eurhynchium striatum

Family: Brachytheciaceae

Origin: native

Fruiting season: occasional

Habitat: woodland, hedge banks, rocky ground

What does common striated feather-moss look like?

Mosses are simple, rootless evergreen plants that don’t have flowers or seeds but reproduce by spores. Common striated feather-moss, as its name suggests, is fairly common and forms cushions or mats that may cover a large area.

Leaves: spread widely and look more or less the same whether wet or dry. Length 1.5–2mm, triangular-shaped but at the point they attach, are narrower and heart-shaped. Margins are finely toothed and, on closer inspection, the leaves appear wrinkled due to the shallow folds along their length.

Shoots/stems: generally pale yellow-green, pinnately branched with branches spreading almost at right angles. The shoots look rigid owing to the straight nature of the stems and branches.

Sporophytes (spore capsules): occasionally present, 2–3mm long with a beaked lid.

Not to be confused with: other branched (pleurocarpous) mosses in woodlands which can look quite superficially similar. Loeskeobryum brevirostre is very similar, and another species of old-woodlands, but has reddish stems and tiny leaf-like structures on the stem.

Where to find common striated feather-moss

Common striated feather-moss loves the cool conditions in the UK where it is fairly widespread and common. Globally, it also grows in mainland Europe and Russia.

It favours long-established woodland where it grows on the ground and around stones, particularly on base-rich soils, such as in ash woodlands. It also grows in hedge banks, rocky ground and on rock ledges as long as they are not exposed to full sun.

Did you know?

The striatum part of its scientific name relates to the stripes that distinguish it from similar species.

Hazel dormouse pup

Credit: Marko König / Alamy Stock Photo

Value to wildlife

Moss offers habitats for other plants, insects, frogs and fungi. Some larvae of micro-moths and lace bugs feed only on moss. Other insects hunt among moss for prey. The insects from moss also feed bats and birds. Squirrels use moss to line their dreys and dormice hibernate in nests made beneath moss.

Uses of common striated feather-moss

Moss has been used over centuries to provide moisture for thirsty travellers; as well as dressings for soldiers’ wounds during the First World War (particularly sphagnum moss); in floristry, medicine and increasingly in biotechnology. In rural UK it was traditionally used to extinguish fires; while Native Americans used moss for nappies; and Finns made bread from peat moss when other food was scarce.

Threats and conservation

Common and not currently under threat in the UK, though the species is mainly dependent on established woodland.

glittering wood moss

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