Ohio Bristle Moss, Orthotrichum ohioense
Orthotrichaceae or Bristle Moss Family

A small moss, about half an inch tall, forming pillows and carpets on the trunks and branches of hardwood trees, especially near streams and rivers. The leaves are brownish green and needle-like. Hiding within the leaves are little capsules containing spores. When the spores are mature, a lid on top of the capsule pops off, allowing the spores to escape and blow away to make new plants. One closed, and several open capsules are visible at right.

Despite the species name ohioense, it is a widespread moss in eastern North America from Nova Scotia west to Ontario and south to Georgia and Mississippi. In Wildwood, look on tree trunks near Connelly's Run. The one pictured was collected from a large branch of the White Poplar near the picnic table that came down in a winter storm. Species of Ulota (Tree Pillows) are very similar, but their capsules are held above the leaves on long stalks. Ulota species occur in our area, but have not been found in Wildwood yet.


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