Leskea gracilescens Hedwig, Spec. Musc. 222. 1851.
Plants in dark-green or brownish-green mats. Branches spreading, rather rigid, ± tightly foliate, erect not curved at tips. Stem leaves similar to branch leaves, 0.6--0.8 mm. Branch leaves, ± tightly foliate, usually ± rigid and erect to somewhat incurved-erect when dry, erect-spreading when moist, 0.4--0.5 mm, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, acute or sometimes bluntly pointed, ± 2-plicate at base; margins irregularly revolute in proximal half or beyond especially when dry, entire to subserrulate distally; costa ending near apex; distal laminal cells 7--11 μm, obscurely bulging-papillose on both surfaces, more noticeable so abaxially. Seta 5--8 mm, yellow-brown, becoming orange brown or reddish with age. Capsule straight, oblong-cylindric to sometimes curved before dehiscence; 1.5--2.2 mm; annulus of 1--2 rows of cells; operculum rounded-conic, ± pointed, exostome teeth 0.2--0.4 mm, pale, yellowish to brownish yellow, cross-striolate at base; endostome segments nearly as long as exostome teeth. Spores 12--14 μm, very finely papillose.
Capsules mature throughout year. Bases and trunks of hardwood trees, red cedar, soil around tree bases, on logs, shingle roofs, rocks; 10--900 m; Man., Ont., Que.; Ark., Ala., Conn., D.C., Del., Fla., Ind., Ill., Tenn., Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.J., N.Y., N.C., N.Dak., Ohio, Okla., Pa., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.
Leskea gracilescens is the most common Leskea in North America. While it occurs throughout the United States and Canada from North Dakota to Ontario south to the Coastal Plain, it is most common in the mid West where its colonies are often quite large and dense. In the western part of its range, plants with blunt leaves are difficult to distinguish from Leskea obscura. However, these blunt-leaved forms will have some leaves with plications and revolute margins. If mature capsules with intact peristomes are present, L. gracilescens is easily distinguished from L. obscura by an endostome and exostome of nearly equal in length and an operculum that is more pointed than the operculum of L. obscura.