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tortula moss


5–20 mm.


usually in distinct whorls, infolded, somewhat contorted, and weakly to strongly twisted around the stem when dry, wide-spreading to slightly recurved when moist, concave, spatulate, 2–4 × 1–1.5 mm;

margins revolute in the proximal 1/2–3/4, entire;

apices acute or sometimes truncate;

costa excurrent into a long, serrate, hyaline awn (reddish at base), often strongly papillose abaxially and serrulate near the apex because of projecting cell ends, red;

basal cells abruptly differentiated, long-rectangular, 45–80 × 20–30 µm, short-rectangular to quadrate at the margins;

distal cells quadrate to hexagonal, 12–17 µm, slightly bulging, bearing 4–6 papillae per cell.


red, 10–18 mm.

Sexual condition

synoicous (apparently rarely dioicous).


brownish red, 3–4 mm, slightly curved, with a distinct neck;

operculum 1.5–2 mm, brown;

peristome ca. 1.5 mm, the distal divisions twisted about 2 turns, red, the basal membrane white, 1/2–2/3 the total length.


9–13 µm, papillose.


asexual reproduction absent.

Syntrichia princeps

Habitat Humus, soil, rock, tree bark
Elevation low to moderate elevations
from FNA
AZ; CA; ID; MT; NV; OR; UT; WA; BC; Mexico; w South America; s South America; Europe; w Asia; Africa; Pacific Islands (Hawaii, New Zealand); Australia; Antarctica
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The synoicous condition of Syntrichia princeps is diagnostic if present, but otherwise one must rely on wider basal leaf cells, costal hydroids, and the stem central strand to separate this species from S. ruralis, S. papillosissima, and S. norvegica. The more acute leaves with cells generally smaller, and costa reddish and serrulate separate it from S. obtusissima.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 27, p. 624.
Parent taxa Pottiaceae > subfam. Pottioideae > Syntrichia
Sibling taxa
S. ammonsiana, S. amphidiacea, S. bartramii, S. cainii, S. caninervis, S. chisosa, S. fragilis, S. laevipila, S. latifolia, S. montana, S. norvegica, S. obtusissima, S. papillosa, S. papillosissima, S. ruralis, S. sinensis
Synonyms Tortula princeps
Name authority (De Notaris) Mitten: J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot., suppl. 1: 39. (1859)
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