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Montana Field Guides

Pygmy Racomitrium Moss - Niphotrichum pygmaeum
Other Names:  Racomitrium pygmaeum

Status Under Review
Native Species

Global Rank: GU
State Rank: SU
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Distribution data in BIOTICS had Distribution Confidence as "Reported but unconfirmed" with no explanatory notes (Spribille report). FNA 2014 does not show this in Montana.
General Description
Plants: Small and slight, olive green to yellow with green tones. Stems typically 5-25 mm in length, curving upward, nearly pinnately branched to scarcely branched; rhizoids characteristically throughout (FNA 2007).

Leaves: Similar dry as when wet, overlapping somewhat, spreading a little to ca 45 degrees or curved back and downward slightly when wet, 1.5-1.8 mm in length, 0.5-0.6 mm in width, lance-shaped with ovate tendencies, with small, plane auricles; margins curved back and down throughout or only faintly so along part of each margin; usually with a hair-point, seldom wanting, the hair-point somewhat long on the topmost leaves, subulate, with a few fine teeth, lacking papillae or with a few papillae below, not extending back along the margins; costa extending to the apex, not lying in a groove, very flat on the dorsal surface (FNA 2007).

Leaf Cells: Margins unistratose; costa of 2 cell layers throughout or sometimes 3 near the base; middle and upper laminal cells nearly square or slightly lengthened, sinuose, appearing yellowish and opaque from the thick covering of large papillae on both surfaces; basal laminal cells long and quadrangular, with walls pitted, knobby, and somewhat thick, lacking papillae in the several rows at the leaf attachment; alar cells nearly square or lengthened slightly with fine walls, transparent or translucent in 3-6 rows; supra-alar cells square or nearly so, with fine, straight walls, creating borders at the margins of up to 15 cells (FNA 2007).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Distinguished by its hair-point with no or few papillae at its base, the costa which is percurrent and not lying in a groove, the diminutive auricles, and the yellowish upper laminal cells thickly covered with prominent papillae (FNA 2007).

Species Range

Range Comments
Known only in BC and WA. Rare; few collections have been made (FNA 2007). Also known in Montana from the Whitefish Range (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 1

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Acidophilic; on dry, exposed soil of heaths above timberline. Elevation: 6230-8200 feet (FNA 2007).

Reproductive Characteristics
Fruit unknown (FNA 2007).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Elliott, J.C. and A.K. Pipp. 2018. A Checklist of Montana Mosses (1880-2018). December 20th. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, Montana. 73 pp.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Lawton, E. 1971. Keys for the Identification of the Mosses on the Pacific Northwest. Reprinted from 'Moss Flora of the Pacific Northwest'. Published as Supplement No. 2 of the Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory. Nichinan, Miyazaki, Japan. 66 pp.
    • Lawton, E. 1971. Moss Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Hattori Botanical Laboratory. Japan: Yamabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. 362 pages plus appendices.
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Citation for data on this website:
Pygmy Racomitrium Moss — Niphotrichum pygmaeum.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from