Species Profile

Silver Hair Moss

Scientific Name: Fabronia pusilla
Taxonomy Group: Mosses
Range: British Columbia
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2012
Last COSEWIC Designation: Endangered
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered

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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Silver Hair Moss

Silver Hair Moss Photo 1



The Silver Hair Moss is a tiny, creeping moss that grows in thin, flat mats, often mixed in with other moss species. It has narrow stems with an irregular branching pattern. The oval to lance-shaped leaves are less than 1 mm long and less than 0.5 mm wide, and each leaf tip ends in a microscopic hair-like projection. The leaves are pressed together along the length of the stems, except for the leaf ends that tend to stick out toward the end of the stem. Overall, the moss appears silvery to whitish-green.


Distribution and Population

Globally the Silver Hair Moss is found in western North America, western Europe, and northern Africa — principally in Mediterranean-type climates. In Canada, it is at the northern limit of its distribution, and has only been found at two sites in British Columbia: near Lower Arrow Lake in the Kootenay Valley, and on Sumas Mountain east of Abbotsford. The Arrow Lake site is now submerged behind a dam, and the Silver Hair Moss has not been collected from that area since the late 1800s. It was collected from Abbotsford in 1968, but was not found during three excursions to the site in 2001. The small size of the Silver Hair Moss, its habit of growing in with other mosses, and the inaccessibility of much of its potential habitat at this site, may result in Silver Hair Moss not being found during field surveys.



Silver Hair Moss grows on semi-exposed rock or the surface of tree bark. Both of the known sites in British Columbia have hot summers and cool to cold winters.



Very little is known about the biology of the Silver Hair Moss. It is autoicous — with male and female organs on the same stem — and likely does not spread vegetatively. The spores (the reproductive bodies that the new plants arise from) are likely spread by the wind, but it is not known how far they are dispersed, or how easily they germinate. The Silver Hair Moss usually grows mixed in with other moss species, which typically are larger than it is, and may out-compete it in the habitat it uses.



The Silver Hair Moss is at the northern extent of its range, and therefore vulnerable to chance events. No notable external threats to the population are known.



Federal Protection

The Silver Hair Moss is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.


Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Silver Hair Moss (Fabronia pusilla) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry


Recovery Team

BC Bryophyte Recovery Team

  • Brenda Costanzo - Chair/Contact - Government of BC
    Phone: 250-387-9611  Fax: 250-356-9145  Send Email


Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date The draft recovery strategy has been completed. The species was not relocated during an inventory completed during the summer of 2005.


PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

12 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the silver hair moss Fabronia pusilla in Canada (2002)

    Fabronia pusilla, the silver hair moss, is a tiny, creeping moss characterized by small leaves that are bordered by cilia-like and often multi-cellular teeth along the margins. Long, clear awns, or leaf tips, are also characteristic of this species. Occasionally, it has been considered a synonym of F. ciliaris, but the often multi-cellular, cilia-like teeth along the leaf margins separate F. pusilla from this species.

COSEWIC Assessments

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Silver Hair Moss (2013)

    This is a small species that grows among other mosses as an epiphyte on trees or on rock faces. In Canada, it is known from only one cliff in southwestern British Columbia. Although the species has not been found during recent surveys, the expanse of available habitat at the only known site, combined with the small stature of the moss, suggests that the species may still be present in Canada.
  • Response Statements - Silver Hair Moss (2004)

    A response statement is a communications document that identifies how the Minister of the Environment intends to respond to the assessment of a wildlife species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The document provides a start to the listing and recovery process for those species identified as being at risk, and provides timelines for action to the extent possible.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Silver Hair Moss (Fabronia pusilla) in Canada (2008)

    The silver hair moss was listed on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) as Endangered in June 2003. SARA section 37 requires the competent minister to prepare a recovery strategy for all listed extirpated, endangered or threatened species. SARA section 44 allows the Minister to adopt all or part of an existing plan for the species if it meets the requirements under SARA for content (sub-sections 41(1) or (2)). The British Columbia Ministry of Environment led the development of this recovery strategy for the species in cooperation with Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Pacific and Yukon Region. The strategy meets SARA requirements in terms of content and process (Sections 39-41). In the spirit of cooperation of the Accord, the Government of British Columbia has given permission to the Government of Canada to adopt the Recovery Strategy for the Silver Hair Moss (Fabronia pusilla Raddi) in British Columbia (Appendix 1) under Section 44 of the Species at Risk Act. Environment Canada has included an addition which completes the SARA requirements for this recovery strategy, and excludes the section on Socio-Economic Considerations which is not required by the Act. Due to technical difficulties, the comment period for this proposed Recovery Strategy was extended until March 25, 2008.


  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (2004)

    This Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of wildlife species done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act (2005)

    Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), is amended by Order of the Governor in Council (GIC), on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, by the addition of 73 species. This Order is based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and follows consultations with provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the public, and analysis of costs and benefits to Canadians.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2003 (2003)

    May 2003 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2011-2012 (2012)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (September 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012) from November 21 to 25, 2011 and from April 29 to May 4, 2012. On February 3, 2012, an Emergency Assessment Subcommittee of COSEWIC also assessed the status of the Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus), the Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus), and the Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis). During the current reporting period COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 67 wildlife species. For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern). The wildlife species assessment results for the 2011-2012 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 1 Extirpated: 4 Endangered: 29 Threatened: 10 Special Concern: 15 Data Deficient: 2 Not at Risk: 6 Total: 67 Of the 67 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 49 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment (see Table 1a).

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species Under the Species At Risk Act: March 2004 (2004)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list.
  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – December 2012 (2013)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by March 4, 2013, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultations and by October 4, 2013, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations. Consultation paths.