Tufted fen-moss

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Tufted fen-moss

Paludella squarrosa

With a hand-lens or microscope, we see incredible detail and beauty that we otherwise would not even notice. This is especially true of small plants such as mosses. As a group, however, these individually short plants make up the majority of the plant life in much of the Arctic, and play a leading role in ecosystem function.

Image: Tufted-fen moss

3D View: Tufted fen-moss
A close up of Tufted fen-moss.

Why this species is important

Tufted fen-moss (scientifically referred to as Paludella squarrosa) can be found growing in wet and seepy places.  This species of moss has short, pointed leaves that grow in rows on a stem and that curve away and downward towards the ground, creating a pipe cleaner effect.  With a strong magnifying glass, you can see that the stems are coated with dense, dark hair.


Accessing water

Most plants access water by taking up moisture from its roots and transporting it up the plant internally. Tufted fen-moss is completely different.

This interactive image shows how Tufted-fen moss can carry moisture to the top of the plant.  Sliding the scale from left to right, the plant pulls water up its stem on the outside of its structure.

An interactive image showing how Tufted-fen moss moves water up along the outside of the plant's stem.

Little marsh moss


The scientific name for Tufted fen-moss is Paludella squarrosa.  “Palud” comes from the latin word for “marsh” referring to the species’ preferred wet habitat.  The ending “ella” refers to the plant being small in size, so the name translates as “little marsh moss”.


A circumpolar plant


Tufted fen-moss is circumpolar in distribution.  On the most recent expedition, Jennifer Doubt, a botanist with the Canadian Museum of Nature, found this moss in both Canada and Greenland!  If the expedition had continued to travel west, this moss would also have been found in Europe and Asia, especially in Siberia.




A sight for sore eyes


When you look at it up-close, Tufted fen-moss is one of the most distinctive mosses around.  It resembles no other!  No wonder it is a favourite for many bryologists, which is what we call people who study mosses!