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Montana Field Guides

Ribbed Bog Moss - Aulacomnium palustre
Other Names:  Glow Moss

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
Plants: Loose or dense tufts. Yellow-green above and brown below. Stems 1-11 cm tall with numerous rhizoids in the leaf axis, but not at the top.

Leaves: When dry, leaves contorted. When wet, leaves erect-spreading, ovate, oblong-lanceolate, lanceolate, or linear-lanceolate, 1-4 mm long, and slightly decurrent. Apex acuminate and either long and narrow or more-or-less obtuse and short. Margins recurved, entire, or serrulate at the apex. Costa ends before apex.

Leaf Cells: Cells with a single, large papilla on each surface. Upper leaf cells rounded, 12-16 µm, and sometimes slightly sinuose. Lower leaf cells longer and somewhat sinuose. Basal cells in more than 1-layer, inflated, often brown, and 20-30 x 10-20 µm.

Diagnostic Characteristics
A. palustre is like a larger version of A. androgynum. However, the former’s gemmae are almost leaf-like, triangular in shape, and arranged spirally along the pseudopodium’s length, whereas A. androgynum’s gemmae are shaped like a spindle and found only at the top of the pseudopodium. Additionally, A. palustre has swollen brownish cells across the leaf insertions, which A. palustre lacks (Crum 1981).

Species Range

Range Comments
Greenland; Canada: AB, BC, MB, NB, NL, NT, NS, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT; United States: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY; Mexico; West Indies (Dominican Republic); n, w South America; Europe; Asia; Pacific Islands (New Zealand); Australia (FNA 2014). In Montana: Madison, Mineral, Missoula, Park, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, and Ravalli Counties (Elliott 2016).

Although widely distributed, the species does not necessarily occur frequently throughout its range.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 56

(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)

On wet soil in wetlands, including fens, marshes, and swamps (Elliott 2016).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous. Seta is 2.0-4.5 mm tall. Capsules inclined to horizontal, more-or-less zygomorphic, and 2-4 mm long.

Gemmae leaf-like, borne in clusters at leaf apex and singularly along the pseudopodium (Lawton 1971).

  • 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.C. and A.K. Pipp. 2018. A Checklist of Montana Mosses (1880-2018). Updated 3 January, 2020. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, Montana. 73 pp.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 2014. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 28. Bryophytes: Mosses, Part 2. Oxford University Press, Inc., NY. xxi + 702 pp.
    • Lawton, E. 1971. Moss Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Hattori Botanical Laboratory. Japan: Yamabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. 362 pages plus appendices.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Aho, Ken Andrew. 2006. Alpine and Cliff Ecosystems in the North-Central Rocky Mountains. Ph.D. Dissertation. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 343 p.
    • Flowers, S. 1973. Mosses: Utah and the West. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. 567 p.
    • 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.
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Citation for data on this website:
Ribbed Bog Moss — Aulacomnium palustre.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from