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tree moss

any of the plants of the genus Climacium (order Bryales), which resemble small evergreen trees and are found in damp, shady places throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The most common species are the European tree moss (C. dendroides), which is also found in North America, and the American tree moss (C. americanum). Both are about 5 to 10 centimetres (2 to 4 inches) high, with the branches clustered at the top of the shoot. The reddish-brown capsules (spore cases), borne on the female plant, have lids with long beaks and mature in the fall. The American tree moss has longer, narrower capsules with longer beaks and a leaf different from that of the European tree moss. Both species produce new shoots vegetatively each year from horizontal stems growing on the soil surface. A less common North American species, C. kindbergii, can be found growing in very wet, swampy places. It is very dark green, almost black, in colour, and its tendency to form dense tufts or cushions obscures the treelike appearance of the small individual plants.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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