pincushion moss

(Leucobryum glaucum)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed

pincushion moss

NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Nativity

Native

     
Occurrence

Very common in eastern U.S., common in Minnesota

Growth Form

Acrocarpous

Habitat

Moist to moderately dry. Forests, bogs, swamps. Partial sun to medium shade. Acidic soil.

Photo by Luciearl
Height

13 16 to 2 (3 to 6 cm)

 
 
Identification

Pincushion moss is a common, large, tall, tuft-forming moss. It occurs throughout Europe and in eastern North America. It is very common in the eastern United States, and common in eastern Minnesota, where it is at the western extent of its range. It is found under partial sun to medium shade in forests, bogs, and swamps. It grows in acidic soil, on rotting logs and stumps, on the bases of trees, and on rock ledges. It is tolerant of disturbance and is often found in cemeteries, in city parks, on trailsides, and in the shade of large buildings. It sometimes forms large cushions up to 40 (1 m) in diameter.

Pincushion moss has an upright grown form (acrocarpous). It forms a large, smooth, dome-shaped, green or light green to whitish cushion on the ground. The cushion is a dense tuft of numerous individual stems that clearly radiate from a central point of origin. The stems are closely packed and difficult to separate. The cushion is usually 13 16 to 2 (3 to 6 cm) tall and up to 23 (60 cm) in diameter, though it may be much smaller. In favorable conditions it can reach up to 5 (12.5 cm) tall up to 40 (1 m) in diameter.

The stem is anchored to the substrate, dirt or wood, by fibrous filaments (rhizoids). It is green, to 5 (1 to 12.5 cm) long, round in cross section, and usually unbranched, sometimes evenly (dichotomously) forked. It is densely covered with numerous crowded leaves that arranged almost in whorls.

The leaves are erect to spreading, lance-shaped, and to (3 to 9 mm) long. They consist of a broad midrib (costa) with narrow tissue (lamina) on each side. The lamina is only 5 to 11 cells wide. It is widest at the leaf base, narrowing toward the tip. The leaves clasp the stem at the base, and are pointed at the tip. The margins roll inward and the leaf becomes almost tube-like toward the tip. The blades are 4 to 6 cells deep. The inner cells are small and are green because they contain chlorophyll. The outer cells are large, thin-walled, translucent and whitish. They are filled with water when moist, with air when dry.

Male and female reproductive organs appear on separate plants within the same cushion. Dwarf male plants grow on tufts of woolly hairs or on the leaves of female plants. Single female reproductive organs (sporophytes) are sometimes produced but are uncommon. The sporophyte consists of a spore-bearing capsule an the end of a slender, reddish, more or less erect, 5 16 to 11 16 (8 to 18 mm) long stalk (seta).

The capsule is 1 32 to 1 16 (1.5 to 2.0 mm) long, ellipse-shaped, asymmetric, and strongly curved. At the end of the capsule there is an obliquely angled opening. When immature the capsule is light green and the opening is covered with a membranous hood (operculum). As it matures the capsule turns red or reddish-brown, and the operculum breaks apart and drops off, exposing a ring of 16 dark red teeth (peristome).

Pincushion moss also reproduces asexually and vegetatively. Small clusters of cells (gemmae) at the tips of the stem are easily detached. Each gemma can form a new plant if it lands on a suitable substrate. If a dried leaf is broken off and moisture is restored, rhizoids will be produced at the tip of that leaf and a new plant will be formed.

 
Similar
Species

White moss (Leucobryum albidum) is smaller. The stems are shorter, usually no more than long, rarely more than 1¾ long. The leaves are shorter, usually no more than long. It is much less common.

 
Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 3, 4, 24, 29, 30, 79.

 
Comments

 

 
Taxonomy

Phylum:

Bryophyta (mosses and liverworts)

 

Class:

Bryopsida (true mosses)

 

Subclass:

Dicranidae

 

Order:

Dicranales

 

Family:

Leucobryaceae

 

Genus:

Leucobryum

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

leucobryum moss

pincushion moss

white pincushion moss

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Acrocarp

A moss that grows in cushions or tufts; has an upright growth habit; is usually unbranched or sparingly forked; and has the female sporophytes borne at the tips of stems and branches. Adj.: acrocarpous.

 

Operculum

On mosses: A lid or cover that covers the opening of a capsule and detatches at maturity.

 

Rhizoid

A filament arising from the lower stem of a moss, liverwort, or alga that anchors it to a substrate.

 

Seta

In Lepidoptera: A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like outgrowth used to sense touch. In mosses:The stalk supporting a spore-bearing capsule and supplying it with nutrients. Plural: setae.

       
Visitor Photos
   
Share your photo of this plant.
 

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

       
Luciearl
       

I discovered this fascinating moss on my trail several years ago. I would see it every summer, never spreading and finally breaking down after blowdown and more sun exposure. I can still find part of it in the summer. The texture feels like a tennis ball. Diameter about 18 inches. It first appears as moss on a rock, but when touched it is spongy solid moss.

  pincushion moss    
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   
       

 

Camera

     
Slideshows
   
     
     
     
     
     

 

slideshow

       
Visitor Videos
       
Share your video of this plant.
   

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more videos or YouTube links and, if you like, a caption.

       
Other Videos
 
       
       
       

 

Camcorder

         
Visitor Sightings
   
Report a sighting of this plant.
 
This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.

Luciearl
Summer 2019

Location: Cass County

I discovered this fascinating moss on my trail several years ago. I would see it every summer, never spreading and finally breaking down after blowdown and more sun exposure. I can still find part of it in the summer. The texture feels like a tennis ball. Diameter about 18 inches. It first appears as moss on a rock, but when touched it is spongy solid moss.

pincushion moss


     
     
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
   

 

 

 

Binoculars


Created: 1/24/2020

Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © 2020 MinnesotaSeasons.com. All rights reserved.