COMMON HAIR CAP MOSS, Polytrichum commune

February 2012

photo by Sue J. Avery
Common Hair Cap Moss forms lush green carpets on moist, slightly acid soils in the woodlands of Newton. This moss gets its name from the hairs that cover the cap of its spore case. The green carpets of this moss have a star-shaped patterning because the individual plants have pointed leaves arranged spirally at right angles to a stiff stem. In springtime, raindrops splash male sperm onto female shoots containing an egg. The egg matures to form a sporophyte, which carries a spore capsule high above so that as spores are released they can be carried by the wind.

Common hair cap moss grows all over the world. It has been used as an infusion to dissolve kidney stones and to strengthen hair. Stems can be woven to make baskets.

More information

US Department of Agriculture

Wikipedia

Tree of Life