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Bendy Ditrichum - Ditrichum flexicaule

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

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General Description
Plants: Acrocarpous (Vitt 1988), mostly growing in crowded clumps of erect shoots, green or green with brown tones, not shiny. Stems single or occasionally branched a little, 10-40 mm in height, possessing a central strand; rhizoids occurring at the bottom of the stem and usually somewhat matted (FNA 2007).

Leaves: Somewhat stiff to twisted and bent, seldom curving in sickle-fashion, the sometimes longish base enveloping the stem and abruptly constricting where meeting the subula (FNA 2007), sub-tubulose (Crum & Anderson et al., 1981); margins sometimes faintly- and finely-toothed apically, otherwise smooth; costa strongly rounded on the back side of the leaf (FNA 2007).

Leaf Cells: Lamina 1 cell-layer thick; subular cells somewhat long and diamond-shaped to short and oblong, lengthening at the bottom; juxtacostal cells with the longer sides faintly knobby, the cells closer to the leaf edges becoming more slender; distal margins frequently bi-stratose; costa in X-section with dorsal and ventral stereid bands indistinct (FNA 2007).

Fruit ripens about the first half of summer (FNA 2007).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Although frequently sterile, D. flexicaule fruits more often than the similar Ditrichum gracile. The costa of D. flexicaule is strongly rounded dorsally rather than weakly so, and the leaf base contracts suddenly to the subula rather than gradually narrowing as in D. gracile (FNA 2007).

The similar Ditrichum heteromallum often can be distinguished by its long marginal cells at mid-leaf. Those of D. flexicaule are isodiametric or nearly so, or lengthened crosswise to the leaf (Lawton 1971).

Range Comments
North American Range

AK to NU, BC to NL and NS, WA, OR, ID, MT s to CO, MN, MI (FNA 2007), frequently occurring in the Rocky Mountains (Crum & Anderson et al., 1981). Known in Montana from Cascade, Fergus, Flathead, Glacier, Granite, Lake, Meagher, and Park Counties (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 5

(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)

Calcareous rock and soil (Elliott & Pipp, 2016), frequently in dry, unprotected habitats (Crum & Anderson et al., 1981). Middle elevations to about 13,120 feet (FNA 2007).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous, with female plants taller than the male plants. Sporophytes rare. Perichaetial bracts enveloping the stem somewhat (FNA 2007). Seta a little bent and twisted, deep russet, to 20 mm in height, carrying the capsule beyond the perichaetial bracts. Capsule upright or nearly so, deep brown, sometimes reaching 1.5 mm in length; peristome single, the 16 2-lobed teeth split almost to the membrane, strongly covered with papillae or tiny sharp points. Calyptra like a draping hood (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.
    • 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?
    • 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.
    • 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:
Bendy Ditrichum — Ditrichum flexicaule.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from