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A Moss of Many Names

I have heard this moss species referred to as the white moss, the pincushion moss and mother-in-law's cushion. The scientific name for this plant is Leucobryum albidum. Based on the etymology of its name, white moss is probably the most appropriate. The prefix of the generic name comes from the Greek word leuco or leuko (spelling varies) which means white. {As I read over this post for a final check I was reminded of the father in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. He has a habit of connecting all words in English back to Greek roots. Just thought that I would share so that you too can read the post with a fun Greek accent.} The specific epithet albidum comes from the Latin word albus, also meaning white. So the scientific name tells us that this is a white, white bryum-like moss and the name describes this plant quite well. This moss has a distinctive white sheen and can be found on rotten logs or nestled up next to exposed tree roots as is this patch. I would say that it is one of the whitest moss that you will see in the forests of Connecticut, which makes this species easily recognized. Stay tuned for a discussion of an alternative name for this moss, the mother-in-law's cushion.


  1. intresting-but not the information I need!

  2. What sort of information are you looking for? Maybe I can point you to another source.

  3. But it looks quite green to me! I'm seeking "hairy moss" that I could cultivate next to a partridgeberry plant for contrast in my yard. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. Kudos for being passionate about plants!

  4. The "hair capped" mosses are in the genus Polytrichum, but I would not recommend those for transplanting. You might check out a couple of books on moss gardening. I would recommend moving the mosses around your yard that are already growing in a similar light and moisture location. That way you will be using local mosses that are already adapted to the location where you live.

    Moss Gardening by George Schenk

    Native Ferns Mosses and Grasses by William Cullina

    The Secret Lives of Mosses: A Comprehensive Guide for Gardens by Stephanie Stuber

  5. I'm looking for Pin Cushion moss for a school project. That was good info but not what I needed.

    1. The typical habitat is Eastern Deciduous forests. It grows mostly in moist areas on soil. It is pretty common in forests of the east coast and midwest of North America. Depending on where you are located that may or may not help you out. Happy moss hunting!

    2. cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. I just brought a couple pieces home from Northern Wisconsin that got kicked loose by my grandson at my lake property. We have always called it "brain moss" and have seen that referance on the internet too.

    1. Brain Moss is a very fun name for it. I had not heard of that one before. I will definitely add it to my list of common names for this moss. Thanks for the comment!


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