Sp. Musc. Frond., 141. 1801,.
Plants in loose tufts, green to yellowish green or yellowish-brown, dull. Stems 2–11 cm, densely tomentose below with reddish-brown rhizoids, interruptedly foliate, the leaves crowded in some parts forming swollen, globose regions. Leaves erect-spreading, arched and loosely imbricate with contorted apices when dry, ± undulate to rugose, (2.5–) 5–6.5 (–9) × 1–1.7 mm, concave below, tubulose above, acute, ovate at base, widest point at or somewhat below middle; margins serrulate to serrate in distal half, plane to involute; laminae 1-stratose or with 2-stratose regions near costa and on margins; costa percurrent to shortly excurrent, 1/8–1/4 the width of the leaves at base, serrulate or toothed above on abaxial surface, abaxial ridges absent, with a row of guide cells, two stereid bands extending to apex, adaxial epidermal layer of cells not differentiated, the abaxial layer differentiated; cell-walls between lamina cells weakly to strongly bulging; leaf cells strongly papillose above on abaxial surface, sometimes a few papillae on adaxial surface; alar cells 2-stratose, distinctly differentiated, not extending to costa; proximal laminal cells elongate, pitted, (30–) 49–68 (–101) × (5–) 10–11 (–15) µm, abruptly shorter in distal half of leaf; distal laminal cells short, not or indistinctly pitted, cell-walls irregularly thickened, (7–) 11–12 (–23) × (5–) 7–13 (–20) µm. Sexual condition pseudomonoicous; dwarf males on rhizoids of female plants; interior perichaetial leaves abruptly short-acuminate, convolute-sheathing. Seta 1–3 cm, solitary, reddish yellow or brown. Capsule 1.5–2.5 mm, arcuate, inclined to horizontal, contracted below mouth and furrowed when dry, yellowish-brown to brown; operculum 1.5–2.5 mm. Spores 16–24 µm.
Phenology: Capsules mature spring.
Habitat: Sandy soil, decayed logs, acidic rock, humus over exposed bluffs or outcrops, in pine woods, sometimes bogs
Elevation: 0-1400 m
Nfld. and Labr. (Nfld.), N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que., Ark., Conn., Ga., Ill., Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Mo., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va., Europe
Dicranum spurium is easily recognized by the turgid aspect of the plants with arched, imbricate leaves and with interruptedly foliate stems, i.e., some regions that appear swollen or globose as a result of several growth periods. It is likely to be confused only with 11. D. condensatum (see discussion thereunder).