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Montana Field Guides

A Pocket Moss - Fissidens grandifrons

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status


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General Description
Plants: Acrocarpous (Vitt 1988). Robust and firm aquatic plants, floating or underwater, deep green to black above, brown underneath (Lawton 1971), glossy when wet (Vitt 1988), frequently encrusted in lime (Crum et al. 1981). Stems simple or erratically branched, covered with rhizoids below (Lawton 1971), 1.5-10 cm in length (Crum et al. 1981).

Leaves: Overlapping, firm, erect-spreading, narrowly oblong to lance-shaped and oblong (Crum et al. 1981), the tips curving underneath slightly when dry, the upper leaves 3-4 mm in length, 0.4-0.7 mm in width, the lower leaves similar in size (Lawton 1971); apex slightly rounded or acute but blunt; margins somewhat wavy all around (Crum et al. 1981) to entire; border lacking (Lawton 1971); dorsal lamina rarely extending to the stem (Crum et al. 1981); costa subpercurrent by several cells (Lawton 1971).

Leaf Cells: Smooth, thick-walled and 2-7 layers thick in the lamina except close to the margins, round to erratically angled (Lawton 1971), bulging (Crum et al. 1981).

Range Comments
Wide, circumpolar distribution, but scattered. North America: In the west, NV, CA and WY, n to AB and BC, and further east, AR, AL and TN, n to ON; Mexico; Guatemala. Also Europe and Asia (Crum et al. 1981). Known in Montana from Big Horn, Cascade, Flathead, Gallatin, Granite, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Madison, Mineral, and Missoula Counties (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 34

(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)

On limestone, sometimes submerged in running water like that of streams or waterfalls (Crum et al. 1981), and other wet situations (Lawton 1971).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous; capsules rarely produced. Setae to 15 cm in length; capsules upright, oblong, the theca (urn) 1.2 mm in length (Lawton 1971).

Vegetative reproduction from axillary buds that separate and are dispersed in flowing water (Hill 1902).

  • 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.
    • Hill, E. J. 1902. Fissidens grandifrons, Its Habits and Propagation
    • 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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    • Elliot, J. C. 1993. Second checklist of Montana mosses. Unpublished report. U.S. Forest Service, Region 1. Missoula, MT. 45 pp.
    • Horpestad, A.A. 1969. Factors affecting the distribution and abundance of aquatic macrophytes in parts of the Madison, Firehole and Gibbon Rivers. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 88 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.
    • Rasmussen, S.M. 1968. Composition and structure of macrophyte vegetation of the Firehole River, Yellowstone National Park as related to physical and chemical factors. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 44 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
A Pocket Moss — Fissidens grandifrons.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from