Common Haircap/Marsh Hair Moss (Polytrichum commune)

┬ęPeter Cairns/2020VISION

Marsh hair moss

Scientific name: Polytrichum commune
The Marsh hair moss is the largest moss in the UK. Look out for it in damp woodland and on boggy heathlands where it forms large, green and spikey 'cushions'.

Species information


Height: 20cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The largest moss in the UK, Marsh hair moss grows in damp woodland and ditches, and on heaths and moorland. It grows relatively tall and often forms large 'cushions' or hummocks. The fruiting bodies appear in summer - the capsules are borne on a long, red stem and covered by 'calyptra' (capsule covers).

How to identify

There are at least five species of hair moss in the UK, which are very difficult to tell apart. Marsh hair moss (also known as 'Common haircap') is green, with tough, red, wiry shoots bearing narrow, toothed, spear-headed leaves.



Did you know?

The common name of Marsh hair moss is derived from the golden, hairy calyptra of the fruiting bodies, which are very conspicuous.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many heathland and woodland habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, scrub clearance and coppicing are just some of the ways heathlands and woodlands are kept in good condition. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.