General – erect, little branched, densely matted rhizoids on lower stems; forms large cushions and sometimes mats, 2 – 8 cm high.
Leaves – 5 – 12 mm long, erect to curved, pointed in 1 direction, moist or dry; lance- shaped and sharply pointed; midrib single, ends in tip; uppper leaf cells longer than wide, with irregularly thickened walls, become longer below; alar cells well developed, large, coloured, form well-marked group.
Sporophytes – often present, produced at plant tips; stalk single, straight, long; capsules curved, inclined, cylindrical, smooth; capsule teeth single.
Tree bases, humus, rotting logs and rock outcrops; common across Northwestern Ontario’s boreal forest; circumpolar.
Cushion mosses (Dicranum spp.) are common throughout most of the boreal forest. They are identified by their medium to large size, erect stems, and leaves that curve to 1 side. Broom moss is one of the largest, most common species. The 4, well-developed, toothed ridges along the back of the midrib are characteristic of this species. At a more detailed level, the upper leaf cells of broom moss are longer than wide.
Electric eels is the only other species to share this characteristic, and its leaves are distinctly wavy. Broom moss is often used by florists to make banks of green in show windows. The species name scoparium, from the Latin scopae, ‘a broom’ and the common name ‘broom moss’, both refer to the leaves of this moss, which look like they were swept to one side by someone sweeping the forest.