Polytrichum perigoniale Michaux
Plants in compact, rather dense tufts. Stems to 6 cm. Leaves densely imbricate and crowded, somewhat less sharply toothed than in var. commune; marginal cells of lamellae in section narrow, more shallowly grooved; inner perichaetial leaves conspicuously exceeding the foliage leaves, long-tapering, forming an erect tuft at the base of the seta, the margins scarious, denticulate to subentire, ending in a long, nearly smooth awn. Capsule short-rectangular to cubic.
Humus and damp sandy soil, low woods and margins of swamps, and on roadside banks, common in the Atlantic coastal lowlands and elsewhere; N.B., N.S., Ont.; Fla., La., Mass., N. J., N.Y., N.C., Pa., R.I., S.C., Va.; Europe; n Africa.
Many authors are dismissive of var. perigoniale, for example, as “probably little more than a dry land phase” (H. Crum and L. E. Anderson 1981) occurring throughout the range of the species. The typical expression is seen on the Atlantic coastal plain, as in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey (the type was from South Carolina). The plants have a distinctly “bushy” aspect, the leaves thick-set and densely imbricate, with a comose tuft of perichaetial leaves at the base of the seta.