October 23 2021 – Mosses on the Macnamara Nature Trail with Jennifer Doubt

Members’ Outing – Mosses on the Macnamara Nature Trail with Jennifer Doubt 23 October 2021

We had perfect weather for nine club members on the Macnamara Nature Trail to look for and learn about mosses and liverworts with Jennifer Doubt and Grad student, Cassandra Robillard.  Their interest in and knowledge of their subject was more than evident in the genuine enthusiasm with which they presented information about the findings along the trail.  It was a lovely relaxed but extremely informative format which made for an enjoyable outing.  All that “green stuff” was differentiated into seemingly endless variation.  The hand lenses Jennifer loaned to participants were really appreciated by those not already owning either them or a macro lens for their cell phones.  Microscopes might also now be on some peoples’ Christmas wish list as some mosses can only be identified to species level with one.

Posting to iNaturalist was encouraged and Cassandra did some follow-up after the outing to identify some of the photos entered by outing participants.  New species for the area were found and our outing contributed to citizen science through the identification of some locally rare species.  As there are many aspects of mosses which are not well studied, posting moss findings to iNaturalist for future researches to draw upon is very important.

As with fungi, some of the common English names of the mosses were most humorous (Tortured Tortella Moss, Poodle Moss, Pocket Moss and this was the best – Electrified Cat’s Tail Moss).  Other mosses and Liverworts had English names which fit their look (Woodsy Thyme Moss, Flat-leaved Scalewort, Red-stemmed Feather Moss, Tree Moss and Ontario Rose Moss).  The latter can be found on the Nopiming Trail near the memorial bench.

While the information was overwhelming, even a newbie to mosses like me found some information salient enough that I will remember (Many mosses are one cell thick, non-vascular and therefore absorb nutrients directly through their cell structure; There is more than one species of Peat Moss; Some species require dampness for the male sperm to swim to the ova for reproduction; Rhizoids anchor mosses in place to rocks, trees, or materials.)  The true moss people (sorry, no strange aliens but rather members who really love mosses) were just in their glory with all the findings on the trail.

Please enjoy the pictures and list of mosses and liverworts attached to the blog,

Thank you to all wonderful the participants.


Janet McCullough

Field Trip Coordinator, MFNC




Latin Name English Name Group Notes
Plagiomnium cuspidatum Woodsy Thyme Moss Moss Leaf margins have teeth only on the tipmost half of the leaf
Brachythecium sp. Grass Moss Moss Difficult to ID to species, like grass
Pylaisia sp. Stocking Moss Moss Very short, shiny branches that curl upward
Thuidium sp. Fern Moss Moss Pinnate, tidy, lacy pattern; stem looks furry
Eurhynchium pulchellum Elegant Beaked Moss Moss Branch leaves are blunt, stem leaves are sharply pointed (a real challenge to see with a hand lens!)
Radula complanata Flat-leaved Scalewort Leafy liverwort On the rock with Dicranum and Hedwigia; reproductive structure is a “flattened box”
Hedwigia ciliata Hedwig’s Fringemoss Moss On the rock with Dicranum and Radula
Dicranum (sp.) Broom Moss Moss On the rock – not identified to species.
Frullania eborascensis New York Scalewort Leafy liverwort The small one on trees; can be dark purple; some lichens might need it to colonize trees
Lophocolea heterophylla Variable-leaved Crestwort Leafy liverwort Grows on smooth-rotted logs; leaves have a cleft down the middle
Hypnum lindbergii Lindberg’s Plait Moss Moss All leaves curved downward
Dicranum viride Green Broom Moss Moss Stiff and brittle leaf tips break off when disturbed (e.g., by passing birds, squirrels) as a form of dispersal
Pleurozium schreberi Red-stemmed Feather Moss Moss Very common in the boreal
Conocephalum (cf. salebrosum) Snakewort Thalloid liverwort Scaly; abundant below the metal boardwalk
Climacium dendroides Tree moss Moss Looks like a tree
Tortella tortuosa Frizzled Crisp Moss (Tortured Tortella Moss) Moss Leaves become extremely curly and tangled (NOT all curled in the same direction) when the plants are dry
Anomodon attenuatus Poodle Moss Moss Curled shoot tips, some shoots narrowing because the leaves are progressively smaller toward the tip
Fissidens sp. Pocket Moss Moss Leaves are oriented sideways in one plane; the upper half of each leaf forms a “pita pocket” that partly encloses the lower half of the leaf above it on the stem
Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus Electrified Cat’s Tail Moss Moss Looks like it sounds
Sphagnum squarrosum Shaggy (Squarrose) Peat Moss Moss Compact head with more sparse branches below; leaves come out at right angles from branches
Aneura pinguis Common Greasewort Thalloid liverwort Smooth surface, translucent
Trichocolea tomentella Woolywort Leafy liverwort Fuzzy-looking, very bright green, on rotting stumps
Rhodobryum ontariense Ontario Rose Moss Moss Grows in large, leafy rosettes