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Lepidopilum hirsutum: A Hairy Moss of the Pilotrichaceae Family

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Lepidopilum hirsutum: The Hairy Moss of the Pilotrichaceae Family


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Mosses are fascinating and ancient plants that play important roles in ecosystems around the world. One particularly interesting moss is Lepidopilum hirsutum (Besch.) Broth., also known simply as Lepidopilum. This moss belongs to the Pilotrichaceae family and has some unique characteristics. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at Lepidopilum hirsutum and explore what makes it special.


Mosses are non-vascular plants in the division Bryophyta. They lack true roots, stems, and leaves, instead having structures that serve similar functions. Mosses reproduce via spores rather than seeds and are found in a wide range of habitats, from arctic tundra to tropical rainforests. There are over 12,000 species of moss, with new ones still being discovered.

Morphology and Identification

Lepidopilum hirsutum is a pleurocarpous moss, meaning its reproductive structures (sporophytes) grow laterally from the stems. Its scientific name comes from the Greek words lepidos meaning “scale” and pilos meaning “hair”, referring to the hairy, scale-like leaves. The stems are creeping to ascending and irregularly branched. Leaves are


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ovate-lanceolate, hairy, and have double costae


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(leaf midribs) that extend 1/2 to 2/3 up the leaf. Sporophytes have elongated, cylindrical capsules.

Global Distribution and Habitat

L. hirsutum is found in tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. It grows on tree trunks, branches, and sometimes rocks in moist, shady forests from lowlands to 2000 m in elevation. In the Americas, its range extends from Mexico and the Caribbean to northern Argentina. In Africa it is known from Bioko and São Tomé islands. In Asia it occurs in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea.

Ecological Roles and Adaptations

Like other mosses, L. hirsutum plays important roles in its forest ecosystems:

  • Provides habitat for micro-organisms and small invertebrates
  • Helps retain moisture and stabilize soils
  • Pioneers colonization of disturbed areas
  • Indicator of air quality (sensitive to pollution)

The hairy leaves help trap and retain water, an adaptation to periodic drying in its tropical habitats. The spores are dispersed by wind, allowing this moss to colonize new areas.


Lepidopilum hirsutum is a prime example of the amazing diversity of mosses and the important ecological roles they play. Its hairy leaves and tropical distribution make it well-adapted to its habitat. Next time you’re walking through a tropical forest, take a closer look – you just might spot this fascinating moss! What other secrets of the bryophyte world are waiting to be uncovered?

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