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Montana Field Guides

A Dicranella Moss - Dicranella subulata
Other Names:  A Fork Moss

Status Under Review
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
Plants: Acrocarpous. Growing in clumps of upright shoots (Crum & Anderson et al., 1981), yellowish (FNA 2007) or yellow-green (Lawton 1971). Stems 3-10 mm tall (FNA 2007).

Leaves: Nearly upright to curved and pointing toward one side, to 2 mm in length, lance-shaped, steadily narrowing to form a subula; margins occasionally finely toothed at the very end of the apex and faintly toothed or slightly ragged at the junction of base and limb; costa extending well beyond the apex and filling much of the subula (FNA 2007).

Leaf Cells: Laminal cells smooth, not porose, long and quadrangular (FNA 2007), 6-10:1, disappearing ca halfway or a little further up the leaf as the subula narrows (Crum & Anderson et al., 1981), the lamina 2 cell-layers thick in the very narrow region before it disappears (Lawton 1971); lower laminal cells quadrangular and very slender; alar cells not distinct (FNA 2007); costa in X-section near the base with guide cells (5-10), at the leaf midpoint with guide cells, a small abaxial stereid band, and a few adaxial stereid cells (Lawton 1971).

Fruit ripens in spring and through summer (FNA 2007).

Range Comments
North American Range

AK, YT, BC and AB, s to WA, ID and CO, also CA, WI, MN, NY, QC, MA ne to NB, NL, and NS (FNA 2007). Known in Montana from Flathead, Glacier, and Lincoln Counties (Elliott & Pipp, 2016).

Moist soil along watercourses and banks of roads (Crum & Anderson et al., 1981). Elevation: low to moderate (FNA 2007).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous. Perichaetial leaves longer than the vegetative leaves, the base enveloping the stem and suddenly constricted to a subula spreading to ca 90 degrees. Female and male plants similar in size. Seta single, spiraled when dry, 9-13 mm tall, red, growing much darker with age. Capsule tilted or drooping, longitudinally lined or grooved, 0.7-1 mm in length; peristome single, with 16 teeth, the teeth red, papillose distally, lined or pitted proximally, 2-lobed with the division reaching 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:
A Dicranella Moss — Dicranella subulata.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from