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Leiberg's Matt Moss - Brachytheciastrum leibergii
Other Names:  Brachythecium leibergii

Status Under Review
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status


External Links

General Description
Plants: Pleurocarpous (Vitt 1988). Growing in crowded clumps of erect shoots (FNA 2014) or forming large mats (Lawton 1971), the new green plants maturing to green with yellow tones or to deep golden and orange. Stems prostrate, catkin-like, in X-section round to somewhat flattened, to 6 cm in length; possessing a central strand. Branches round or frequently somewhat flattened in X-section, to 7 mm in length (FNA 2014).

Leaves: Stem leaves spreading from the base somewhat, curved and pointing toward one side of the stem (falcate-secund), lance-shaped, tending toward ovate, 1.3-2.3 mm in length, 0.3-0.9 mm in width, with longitudinal pleats (seldom without); margins with fine saw-like teeth to nearly smooth, flat or curved back and downward in different parts but more frequently at the base; apex tapering to a curved or nearly coiled acumen; costa extending nearly to the middle or beyond. Branch leaves smaller, a little more slender and curved, and not as strongly pleated (FNA 2014).

Leaf Cells: Axillary hairs consisting of 2-4 cells; alar area small, with nearly square cells; laminal cells long and thin; basal cells not quite as long as the laminal cells above; (FNA 2014).

Diagnostic Characteristics
The orange color of this plant, including the seta and capsule, is characteristic. The similar Brachythecium erythrorrhizon is dioicous rather than autoicous, and tends to be a paler green to straw in color (FNA 2014).

Range Comments
North American Range

BC and AB, s to CA, UT and CO (FNA 2014). Known in Montana from Flathead, Gallatin, Glacier, Lake, Lincoln, Missoula, Ravalli, Sanders, and Sweet Grass Counties (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 263

(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)

Soil, humus, rotting logs, and tree bases in conifer forests (Elliott 2016); in the mountainous regions of the West. Elevation: 2620-7550 feet (FNA 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Autoicous. Seta 12-24 mm; red with orange tones. Capsule level to drooping a little, to 1.6 mm in length, red with orange tones; cilia similar in length to endostome sections (FNA 2014), knobby (Lawton 1971).

  • 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.
    • 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
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Elliot, J. C. 1993. Second checklist of Montana mosses. Unpublished report. U.S. Forest Service, Region 1. Missoula, MT. 45 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.
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Citation for data on this website:
Leiberg's Matt Moss — Brachytheciastrum leibergii.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from