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Montana Field Guides

Streamside Peatmoss - Sphagnum riparium
Other Names:  Streamside Sphagnum Moss

Species of Concern

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S1

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
Plants: Frequently tall and vigorous (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981), rigid and erect; green, light green or with brownish tones, capitulum big and level on top (FNA 2007), with a conspicuous cone-shaped, pointed terminal bud (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981).

Stems and Stem Leaves: Stems light green. Stem leaves 1.2-1.4 mm in length (FNA 2007), 0.9-1.3 mm in width (Smith 1980), deltoid to deltoid with tongue-shape tendencies (FNA 2007); apical region reassimilated, leaving an open triangular network (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981), often split down the middle (FNA 2007).

Branches and Branch Leaves: Branch stems green, seldom 5-ranked, dimorphic, the spreading branches coarser and broader than the drooping (pendent) ones, with 2 drooping and 2 spreading branches in each cluster (FNA 2007). Branch leaves turned back and down when dry (Smith 1980), lance-shaped with ovate tendencies, straight, faintly wavy, 2-2.6 mm in length (FNA 2007), 0.5-0.9 mm in width (Smith 1980); apex sharply turned back and under (FNA 2007).

Stem and Stem Leaf Cells: Stem outer cortex consisting of 3-4 tiers of cells that are only slightly differentiated from the cylinder. Hyaline cells of the stem leaves frequently divided (septate), lacking pores and fibrils (FNA 2007).

Branch and Branch Leaf Cells: Branch stems enveloped in 1 layer of cortical cells having evident necks and lacking fibrils. Hyaline cells of the branch leaves with quite large pores at the apex on the convex leaf surface, and sizeable round thin areas located in the cell corners on the concave leaf surface (FNA 2007); green cells in X-section widely showing on the dorsal leaf surface, reaching or slightly showing on the ventral surface; apex of leaf lacking hyaline cells, the “snout” formed by undifferentiated green cells (Smith 1980).

Species Range

Range Comments
Circumpolar, common in the Arctic (Smith 1980). In North America, present in Canada and the USA (FNA 2007). Known in Montana from Lincoln and Missoula Counties (Elliott 2016).

Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
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)

Wet soil and peat (Elliott 2016), developing large carpets on mires with low mineral content (FNA 2007), in marshes and along streams (Smith 1980), in hollows (seldom underwater or emergent), in copses of Alnus and Salix. Uncommon and scattered (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981). Elevation: low to medium (FNA 2007).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous. Capsule under 2 mm in length and with few pseudostomata (FNA 2007).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Crum, H.A. and L.E. Anderson. 1981. Mosses of Eastern North America. 2 volumes. Columbia University Press, New York. 1328 pp.
    • Elliott, J. and A. Pipp. 2016 (forthcoming). Checklist of Montana Mosses. Revised 2016. Prepared by the Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, Montana. 90 pp.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 2007. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 27. Bryophytes: Mosses, Part 1. Oxford University Press, Inc., NY. xxi + 713 pp.
    • Smith, A.J.E. 1980. The Moss Flora of Britain and Ireland. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 705 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:
Streamside Peatmoss — Sphagnum riparium.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from