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Montana Field Guides

Upright Fern Moss - Cratoneuron filicinum

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
Plants: Pleurocarpous (Vitt 1988). Soft to somewhat rigid, growing in large cushions, occasionally to 12 cm in height (typically much shorter) (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981), yellow, green or seldom brown (FNA 2014). Stems typically dense and curved upward (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981), the branching erratic or pinnate, with shoot tips lightly colored (FNA 2014) and frequently curved (Lawton 1971); paraphyllia occasionally present in the most immature part of the shoot, lance-shaped; rhizoids or their initials arising from the stem or dorsal side of the costal attachment, typically well-branched; axillary hairs not well-developed and sparse, with 1-2 transparent cells terminally (FNA 2014).

Leaves: Stem leaves upright or spreading somewhat (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981), slenderly to widely deltoid, sometimes also rounded, occasionally egg-shaped, suddenly or steadily tapering to the acuminate apex, straight or curved, flat or cupped (FNA 2014), 1-1.8 mm in length (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981), 0.4-0.8 mm in width (Lawton 1971); margins finely saw-toothed nearly their entire length, unbordered, flat or curved back and down proximally; base extending down the stem; costa mostly ending at or beyond the leaf tip, but occasionally terminating well below it. Branch leaves more slender and curved than the stem leaves (FNA 2014).

Leaf Cells: Alar cells very swollen and transparent, typically numerous, the alar area distinctive, well-defined, and large, extending from the margin to or nearly to the nerve; marginal cells of 1 cell-layer (FNA 2014), oblong to diamond-shaped, short, 3-6:1 (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981).

Species Range

Range Comments
North American Range

AK to NL and NS, in most continental US states (except NE to OK, LA to FL, KY to DE and NJ, and a few northeastern states); Mexico (FNA 2014). Known in Montana from Carbon, Cascade, Deer Lodge, Flathead, Gallatin, Glacier, Granite, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Madison, Meagher, Mineral, Missoula, Park, Pondera, Ravalli, Teton, and Valley Counties (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 33

(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)

Bottoms of trees near waterways, springs, damp (FNA 2014) to wet soil and rock (Elliott 2016), calcareous areas, including calcareous fens (FNA 2014); seepage and backwaters of streams (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous. Interior perichaetial leaves longitudinally pleated, finely toothed, particularly above (FNA 2014). Seta 25-35 mm in length (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981). Capsule bowed, level; exostome edges a little toothed above; cilia of endostome knobby (FNA 2014).

  • 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.
    • 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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    • 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.
    • 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:
Upright Fern Moss — Cratoneuron filicinum.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from