Silky swan-neck moss (Campylopus setifolius)

Silky swan-neck moss
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Silky swan-neck moss fact file

Silky swan-neck moss description

GenusCampylopus (1)

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).

Plants: 3-13 cm (2).

Silky swan-neck moss biology

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).


Silky swan-neck moss range

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).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.

Silky swan-neck moss habitat

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).


Silky swan-neck moss status

Classified as Nationally Scarce in Great Britain (3).


Silky swan-neck moss threats

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 conservation

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).

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.

Find out more

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:


Nutrient enrichment of aquatic or terrestrial ecosystems.
A life cycle stage in plants, which has one set of chromosomes (threads of DNA protein) in the cell nucleus (a condition known as 'haploid'), which arises from a spore (which is also haploid). Sex cells (gametes) are produced during the gametophyte stage. This is the dominant life-cycle stage in liverworts and mosses.
Thread-like structures that help to anchor the plant to the substrate, and absorb minerals and water. In liverworts they consist of a single cell, in mosses they are multi-cellular.
Microscopic particles involved in both dispersal and reproduction. They comprise a single or group of unspecialised cells and do not contain an embryo, as do seeds.
The stage of a plant life cycle that produces spores (microscopic particles used in dispersal and reproduction). This stage is diploid (in the cell nucleus there are two sets of chromosomes - threads of DNA protein) and is dominant in 'higher' plants such as flowering plants.
Vascular system
In plants, the system that allows water and nutrients to move around.
Vegetative reproduction
Type of asexual reproduction (reproduction without recombination of genetic material) that results in the propagation of plants using only the vegetative tissues such as leaves or stems. The resulting plant is genetically identical to the original plant. A well-known example of this is the reproduction of strawberry plants from 'runners'.


  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):

Image credit

Silky swan-neck moss  
Silky swan-neck moss

© British Bryological Society / National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff

National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff
Cathays Park
CF10 3NP
United Kingdom


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