Silky swan-neck moss (Campylopus setifolius)

GenusCampylopus (1)
SizePlants: 3-13 cm (2).

Classified as Nationally Scarce in Great Britain (3).

Silky swan-neck moss forms very robust, dark green or olive-green plants (2). The leaves are very long and narrow (4), measuring between 3.0 and 8.5 mm in length (2).

In Britain, this species occurs in north-west Wales, the Lake District, and western Scotland (3). It is also found in Ireland, and north-western Spain, but the Spanish moss has smaller leaves, and may be a different species (3).

Occurs in moist or wet habitats, such as rock ledges, turf on slopes, and the edges of streams and mires, at altitudes from sea level up to 800m (3).

Mosses, hornworts and liverworts form a group of simple plants called bryophytes. Bryophytes lack many of the more complex structures of the higher plants, such as a vascular system, and flowers. They do not have roots, instead they have structures called 'rhizoids' which absorb water and anchor the plant to the substrate. All bryophytes have an interesting life cycle consisting of two main parts, called the gametophyte and sporophyte generations. Plants that are in the gametophyte stage can reproduce sexually. Male organs (antheridia) produce sex cells, which move to the female organs (archegonia). Fertilisation occurs and a 'sporophyte' develops, this structure remains attached to the plant. The sporophyte releases spores, which disperse and develop into a new plant (5).

The presence of sporophytes in silky-swan-neck moss has not been confirmed (3). Rather than spreading by means of spores, this species undergoes vegetative reproduction; fragments of leaves that break off from the plant develop into new plants (2).

The threats facing this species are not fully understood. However, burning, excessive grazing by sheep or deer, peat digging, conifer planting and eutrophication may all pose threats (3).

Silky swan-neck moss is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) priority species, and a Species Action Plan has been published in order to outline the targets for its conservation (3). This plan aims to maintain the current range of this moss. At present, a number of the sites supporting this species are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), others are managed as National Nature Reserves (NNRS), they therefore receive a degree of protection (3).

For more on this species see the UK BAP Species Action Plan, available on-line at:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September 2002)
  2. Smith, A. J. E. (1978) The moss flora of Britain and Ireland. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. UK BAP Species Action Plan (July 2002):
  4. Mosses and liverworts in Wales. Campylopus setifolius (September 2002):
  5. Mosses and Liverworts in Wales. (September 2002):