Cornish Biodiversity Network  -  Supporting Wildlife Recording

   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z restore

Cornish Red Data (2009)

The descriptive text, below the map, is from the Cornish Red Data Book (2009). The map on this web page depicts the organisms distribution and shows the records made pre-2000 and those made since.

Scopelophila cataractae - Tongue-leaf Copper-moss

Range & Status

First reported from Europe quite recently (Corley & Perry, 1985), but previously overlooked. Widespread but very sparse records in continental Europe now extend from Belgium and Germany to Spain and Italy; known elsewhere in Asia, S. America and U.S.A. In the British Isles now known at scattered localities in S. Ireland (Holyoak, in preparation), Isle of Man, Wales, S. Devon and Cornwall.

Regional Distribution

Found at a total of ca . 17 sites in Cornwall, since it was discovered at Tuckingmill (SW64) in 1994 (Holyoak, 1995), representing a majority of all sites known in the British Isles. The Cornish localities range from Geevor Mine in the west to Minions in the east, with a concentration in the old mining area around Camborne and Redruth.

Habitat & Ecology

All Cornish sites are on spoil from disused copper mines; the Tuckingmill site is described by Holyoak (1995). Unpublished analyses show that the substrata at its Cornish sites have high concentrations of available copper (Clements, 1996; Rouen, 2000; Walsh, 2001). Elsewhere, the species is well known as a ' copper moss' that colonises copper-rich substrata on which few other plants can grow (Shaw, 1987; Satake et al ., 1988). Only male plants are known in Europe, but both sexes of gametophytes and sporophytes are known over much of its range in Asia and in tropical America (Shaw, 1993, 1995). Vegetative spread presumably occurs by dispersal of the protonemal gemmae, which were uniseriate and ca. four cells long in Cornish plants, similar to those described by Arts (1988b) and Rumsey & Newton (1989).


One site was destroyed by infilling of a leat by a developer and several others are on land at Pool where building is being planned or proposed. Two small populations on SSSI have been lost to shading by scrub and others may be at risk from vegetation succession. All of the colonies known in Cornwall are small and some could be at risk from thoughtless collecting of specimens. Two sites are on rather unstable banks, so that the moss is potentially at risk from collapse or erosion of the substrata.


Several sites are protected in SSSI. The species was added to the UK BAP in 2007.

Click here to see Dr. David Holyoak's Bryophyte Flora for this species


I.J. Bennallick, S. Board, C.N. French, P.A. Gainey, C. Neil, R. Parslow, A. Spalding and P.E. Tompsett. eds. 2009. Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition.Croceago Press.

The Cornish Red Data Book Project was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation for Biological Recorders (CISFBR). The full text and species accounts (minus the maps) are available on the CISFBR website.

Cornish Biodiversity Network. 2017.