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Silky Dicranella Moss - Dicranella heteromalla
Other Names:  Silky Fork Moss

Status Under Review
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SU

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
Plants: Acrocarpous. Growing in upright clumps of erect shoots, glossy deep green to yellow. Stems typically to 1 cm, seldom to 4 cm, occasionally forked (Crum & Anderson et al., 1981).

Leaves: Upright or curved and pointing toward one side of the stem, lance-shaped at the base and tapering slowly to a subula, 2-3 mm in length; leaf edges upright or curved up and inward, finely saw-toothed in the upper half (Crum & Anderson et al., 1981), the base somewhat enveloping the stem (Lawton 1971); costa extending beyond the apex and occupying most of the subula (Crum & Anderson et al., 1981).

Leaf Cells: Laminal cells smooth, not porose, somewhat short and quadrangular, decreased to 1-3 cell rows above mid-leaf in the narrow subula; alar cells not distinct (FNA 2007); costa in X-section with a small adaxial stereid band, a larger abaxial stereid band, and guide cells 5-9 (Lawton 1971).

Fruit ripens in spring and summer (FNA 2007).

Species Range

Range Comments
North American Range

Canada: BC and AB, MB e to NL and NS; USA: AK, WA to CA, ID, MT, NE s to TX, e half extending to the coast from MN s to LA (FNA 2007). Known in Montana from Cascade, Flathead, and Glacier Counties (Elliott & Pipp, 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 2

(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)

Damp soil (Elliott & Pipp, 2016) in shady areas along trails (FNA 2007), roads, and wood edges. Elevation: low to 6560 feet or above (Lawton 1971).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous. Perichaetial leaves enveloping the stem, longer than the vegetative leaves. Seta single, yellow, eventually turning darker, spiraled when dry, 5-15 mm tall. Capsule shy of vertical, occasionally tilted to level, frequently bowed, 1-1.5 mm in length, typically with slanted grooves, the opening also slanted, the neck narrowing; peristome single, with 16 teeth, the teeth red, papillose distally, lined or pitted proximally, 2-lobed to ca halfway down. Calyptra hood-like, concealing ca 1/2 of the capsule, falling away when the capsule ripens (FNA 2007).

  • 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. 2007. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 27. Bryophytes: Mosses, Part 1. Oxford University Press, Inc., NY. xxi + 713 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
    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.
    • 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:
Silky Dicranella Moss — Dicranella heteromalla.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from