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Montana Field Guides

A Pocket Moss - Fissidens adianthoides

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status


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General Description
Plants: Acrocarpous, growing in open clumps of upright shoots, green or green with yellow tones distally on the stem, brown proximally (Lawton 1971). Stems to 8.5 cm tall, usually forked, with a central strand; rhizoids smooth (FNA 2007) and tangled proximally (Lawton 1971).

Leaves: Laxly spaced or sometimes overlapping a little, the ends recurved when dry (Lawton 1971), somewhat wavy, lance-shaped or with the long sides nearly parallel, tapering to an acute or sometimes obtuse leaf tip, sometimes reaching 3.5 mm in length and 1.2 mm in width, to 60 pairs, 2-ranked, enveloping the stem closely; vaginant laminae 1/2 the length of the leaf or slightly longer; dorsal lamina not extending down the stem, ending at the leaf base; margins not bordered, scalloped to evenly and finely saw-toothed below, the teeth becoming irregular above; costa ending at or just before the leaf tip (FNA 2007), sometimes a little wavy distally (Crum & Anderson et al., 1981).

Leaf Cells: Lamina mostly 1 cell-layer thick, the dorsal and ventral laminae seldom with 2 layers in erratic patches, the cells square to 6-sided with firm walls; margins with 1-5 rows of cells lighter in color, more slender and thicker-walled than more interior cells, creating a weak marginal strip; cells of vaginant lamina a little larger (FNA 2007).

Diagnostic Characteristics
The similar F. osmundioides lacks the light-colored strip of marginal cells, has papillose rhizoids, and sporophytes terminal at the stem apices rather than in the lower leaf axils (FNA 2007).

Range Comments
North American Range

AK to NU, BC to NL and NS (except MB), s to CA, ID, and WY, also OK to TX, and the eastern half of the United States (FNA 2007). Known in Montana from Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, and Ravalli Counties (Elliott & Pipp, 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 15

(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)

In the spray of waterfalls (Crum & Anderson et al., 1981) or near moving water on moist soil generally, stones, and rotting wood (FNA 2007), humus, tree bark (Crum & Anderson et al., 1981), seeps and meadows (FNA 2007).

Reproductive Characteristics
Possibly dioicous but perigonia unseen; perichaetia usually on short, lateral branches below. Seta 1 per perichaetium, to 25 mm in height (FNA 2007), lateral (Crum & Anderson et al., 1981). Capsule sloping upwards, somewhat bowed, to 1.5 mm in length; stomata scarce below (FNA 2007); operculum about as long as the theca; peristome single, the 16 teeth red and with papillae proximally (Lawton 1971). Calyptra draping hood-like, reaching to 2.5 mm (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
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    • Elliot, J. C. 1993. Second checklist of Montana mosses. Unpublished report. U.S. Forest Service, Region 1. Missoula, MT. 45 pp.
    • 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 Pocket Moss — Fissidens adianthoides.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from