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A Bug-on-a-Stick Moss - Buxbaumia piperi

Native Species

Global Rank: G4
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
Plants: Microscopic annual or perennial plant from a persistent protonema (unique!). Leafy gametophyte is very small and inconspicuous. Gametophyte consists of protonemata bearing perigonia (male) and perichaetia (female). Apparently dioicous.

Leaves: None.

Capsules ripen in late summer to fall (FNA 2007).

Diagnostic Characteristics
This species is identified by the characteristics of its capsule and seta. It is similar to Buxbaumia aphylla, but capsules of the latter species are shiny brown. Those of B. piperi are a muted brown or greenish-brown and never shiny brown (FNA 2007).

Range Comments
Endemic to the western USA. Canada: AB, BC; United States: AK, CA, CO, ID, MT, OR, WA (FNA 2007). In Montana: Flathead, Glacier, Lake, Lincoln, Missoula, and Ravalli Counties (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 4

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Relative Density



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

Mostly on rotten, decorticated wood, but sometimes on soil banks. In the PNW it is more common in wetter coniferous forests. Occurs from low to moderate elevations.

Reproductive Characteristics
Seta is 3-6 mm, straight to arching. Capsule is 3-5 mm, ovoid to narrowly ovoid, dull brown to dull green-brown, ridge separates the upper/lower portion of capsule. Cuticle (exterior membrane) on the top of the capsule may roll back, but only from the mouth. Capsule sits on seta at an extreme oblique angle.

  • 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. 2007. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 27. Bryophytes: Mosses, Part 1. Oxford University Press, Inc., NY. xxi + 713 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:
A Bug-on-a-Stick Moss — Buxbaumia piperi.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from