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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

An Apple Moss - Bartramia ithyphylla

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
Plants: Acrocarpous (Vitt 1988). Growing erect in distant to crowded clumps, pale green or with a whitish overcast. Stems terete in X-section, 10-50 mm in length, (FNA 2014), frequently forked (Lawton 1971), with smooth (Lawton 1971) rhizoids near the base (FNA 2014).

Leaves: Rigidly upright when dry, widespread when moist, 4-5 mm in length; base concave and enveloping the stem somewhat, with obvious shoulders; margins flat with fine teeth below and biserrate above; apex a slim, narrowing point, sometimes long; costa somewhat concealed in the apex, and extending beyond it (FNA 2014).

Leaf Cells: Lamina of 2 cell layers, the margins 1-layered (Lawton 1971); upper cells green, linear or elongate, wider and not as long at the shoulders (Lawton 1971); basal cells long and rectangular to linear (FNA 2014), clear, becoming green near the shoulders; costa in X-section crescent-shaped, with abaxial and adaxial stereids and a row of guide cells (Flowers 1973).

Capsules ripen late in mid-summer and autumn (FNA 2014).

Range Comments
North American Range

Canada: Present in the western and eastern regions; USA: most western states and ME, MI, and NH (FNA 2014). Known in Montana from Cascade, Flathead, Glacier, Lake, and Lincoln Counties (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 7

(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)

Exposed organic soil in alpine tundra (Elliott 2016), rock fissures and moist soil in shaded areas (Flowers 1973); montane forests. Elevation: 3-12470 ft (FNA 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Monoicous, with female and male structures located in the same inflorescence. Perichaetial leaves a little longer than the vegetative leaves and enveloping the stem more closely. Perigonia budlike. Seta 8-30 mm in length. Capsule tilted, nearly spherical to egg-shaped, grooved when dry, the mouth slanted; exostome teeth barred crosswise, with very small papillae below (FNA 2014).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • 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.
    • Flowers, S. 1973. Mosses: Utah and the West. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. 567 p.
    • Lawton, E. 1971. Moss Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Hattori Botanical Laboratory. Japan: Yamabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. 362 pages plus appendices.
    • Vitt, D. J. Marsh, and R. Bovey. 1988. Mosses, Lichens & Ferns of Northwest North America. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 296 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Crum, H.A. and L.E. Anderson. 1981. Mosses of Eastern North America. 2 volumes. Columbia University Press, New York. 1328 pp.
    • 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.
    • Malcolm, B., N. Malcolm, J. Shevock, and D. Norris. 2009. California Mosses. Nelson, New Zealand: Micro-Optics Press. 430 pp.
    • Smith, A.J.E. 1980. The Moss Flora of Britain and Ireland. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 705 pp.
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Citation for data on this website:
An Apple Moss — Bartramia ithyphylla.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from