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moderate-sized to robust, somewhat lax in shade forms to quite compact and stiff in open grown forms; green to pinkish green to reddish purple; forms lawns in shaded habitats and low to moderately tall, dense hummocks in open habitats.
green to purplish red, superficial cortical cells with spiral reinforcing fibrils clearly visible, usually 1 or 2 pores per cell, comb-fibrils lacking on interior wall.
to 2 × 0.7 mm; rarely hemiisophyllous; hyaline cells non-ornamented, mostly nonseptate.
long and tapering to short and pointed, leaves loosely imbricate.
with 2-3 spreading and 2-3 pendent branches.
with hyaline cells non-ornamented; no or weak funnel-like projections on the interior end walls, large round pores on superficial cell walls.
broadly ovate, to 2 × 1 mm or more wide, broadly ovate, hyaline cells non-ornamented, convex surface with round to elliptic pores along the commissures; chlorophyllous cells short-elliptic in transverse section and well-enclosed on both surfaces.
with numerous pseudostomata.
22-30 µm; roughly papillose to nearly smooth, with distinct Y-mark sculpture on distal surface; proximal laesura 0.5-0.8 spore radius.
Capsules mature mid summer. Ecological amplitude very wide, ombrotrophic to rich fen peatlands, forested and open mires; low to high elevations; Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., Nfld. and Labr. (Nfld.), N.W.T., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que., Sask., Yukon; Ala., Alaska, Ark., Calif., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Idaho, Ill., Ind., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Oreg., Pa., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis.; South America; Eurasia.
As the only boreal species of the section with a reddish purple color,
is usually easy to identify. The branch leaf chlorophyll cells are capable of being confused only with those of
, which are less enclosed on both surfaces, and
, which has thickened end walls on the chlorophyll cells that give them a narrow exposure on the concave surface.