| |

Barbula rubiginosa: The Versatile Rusty Beard-moss

Affiliate Disclaimer: As an affiliate, we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase from any of the links on this page at no additional cost to you!


barbula_ehrenbergii.jpg from: https://www.earth.com/plant-encyclopedia/Bryophytes/Pottiaceae/barbula-ehrenbergii/en/

Barbula rubiginosa Mitt.: The Rusty Beard-moss


The world of mosses is full of fascinating and often overlooked species. One such moss is


0261-1024×768.jpg from: https://www.aquaforum.ua/auction/auctions/plant/barbula-sp-millimeter-moss/

Barbula rubiginosa Mitt., also known as the rusty beard-moss. This small but mighty moss belongs to the Pottiaceae family and plays important ecological roles. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the details of


barbula_coreensis.jpg from: https://www.earth.com/plant-encyclopedia/Bryophytes/Pottiaceae/barbula-coreensis/en/

B. rubiginosa, from its morphology to its global distribution and adaptations.


2023-01-02-11-48-27.jpg from: https://www.britishbryologicalsociety.org.uk/learning/species-finder/barbula-unguiculata/


Mosses are small, non-vascular plants in the division Bryophyta. There are over 12,000 moss species worldwide, found in diverse habitats from the arctic to the tropics. Mosses lack true roots, stems, and leaves, instead having simple leaf-like structures called phyllids. The Pottiaceae are a large family of mosses with over 1,400 species, including B. rubiginosa.

Morphology and Identification

Barbula rubiginosa forms small tufts or cushions, typically reddish-brown in color (hence the name “rusty beard-moss”). The phyllids are lance-shaped, 1.5-2.5 mm long, with a strong midrib. The margins are recurved and the apex is acute.


51698624694_43d8a252c3_b.jpg from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21657471@N04/51698624694/

The most distinctive feature of B. rubiginosa is the reddish-brown, hair-like tip on the end of each phyllid, giving it a “bearded” look. Capsules are cylindrical and borne on a reddish seta (stalk). Spores are small, 8-10 μm in diameter.

Global Distribution and Habitat

B. rubiginosa has a wide distribution, found on all continents except Antarctica. It grows on exposed, often calcareous rocks and walls, especially in dry, sunny locations. It is common in urban areas on concrete, mortar, and other man-made surfaces.


51709218994_b892160241_b.jpg from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/21657471@N04/51709218994/


medium.jpeg from: https://enciclovida.mx/especies/147228

Continent Countries
North America Canada, USA, Mexico
South America Argentina, Chile, Peru
Europe Widespread, from Mediterranean to Scandinavia
Asia China, Japan, Russia, India
Africa South Africa, Tanzania, Morocco
Australia Widespread in southern Australia

Ecological Roles and Adaptations

Like other mosses, B. rubiginosa plays important roles in its ecosystem:

  • Erosion control: The dense tufts help stabilize soil and prevent erosion.
  • Water retention: Mosses absorb and retain water, regulating moisture in their microhabitat.
  • Carbon cycling: As a primary producer, B. rubiginosa fixes atmospheric carbon through photosynthesis.
  • Habitat for microorganisms: The spaces between phyllids provide shelter for bacteria, fungi, and micro-invertebrates.

B. rubiginosa


8f47ea19a88a4ae7e5bb1fa37d15ecf9.jpg from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/429601251924577524/

is well-adapted to its dry, exposed habitat:


Barbula rubiginosa may be small, but it is a remarkable moss with a wide distribution and important ecological roles. Its distinctive “rusty beard” and tolerance of harsh conditions make it a common sight in urban and natural habitats worldwide. Next time you see a reddish-brown moss cushion on a rock or wall, take a closer look – it might just be


barbula-sp-millimetre-moss.jpg from: https://www.aquabota.com/fr/accueil/14299-barbula-sp-millimetre-moss.html

B. rubiginosa! What other overlooked species in your area have fascinating stories to tell?

Similar Posts