Search Field Guide
Advanced Search
MT Gov Logo
Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Hedwig's Fringeleaf Moss - Hedwigia ciliata
Other Names:  Hedwig's White Tip Moss

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
Plants: Pleurocarpous (Vitt 1988), growing in broad, uncrowded grey-green mats (Lawton 1971), the stems more or less prostrate toward the base with the distal part ascending (Smith 1978), to 10 cm in length (Lawton 1971).

Leaves: Overlapping and flat to the stem with apices spreading when dry (Lawton 1971), giving them a bristly appearance (Smith 1978), the whole leaves spreading when wet, concave, 1.5-3 mm in length, 0.6-1.2 mm in width, ovate or narrowly so, tapering to a long narrow or short acumen (Lawton 1971), occasionally falcate-secund (Smith 1978); ecostate (Vitt 1988); margins extending below the stem, widely recurved along the basal 1/3 of leaf, the acumen sometimes incurved, the apex with very broad marginal teeth that are smooth to erratically papillose; apex hyaline-white; acumen 1/5-1/10 the length of the leaf, with a groove varying in width and depth (FNA 2007).

Leaf Cells: Basal laminal cells long, 3-5:1, without papillae, yellow; alar cells square to rectangular; medial cells short or somewhat elongate with thick walls (Lawton 1971), with (1-)2(-4) low to sessile, simple to variously-branched papillae; laminal cells in the hyaline area with low, simple papillae (FNA 2007).

Capsules ripen spring-late spring (FNA 2007).

Diagnostic Characteristics
The large, spreading, grey-green mats covering dry acidic rocks are distinctive in the field. In addition, the lower 2/3 of the leaves are green, with the upper 1/3 hyaline-white. When wetted, the leaves can alter from appressed to spreading at 90 degrees within a few minutes (Vitt 1988).

Racomitrium lanuginosum and R. canescens outwardly look like this species, but both are strongly keeled with their single costa. Hedwigia ciliata is ecostate (Vitt 1988).

Range Comments
Greenland; Canada: AB, BC, MB, NB, NL, NT, NS, NU, ON, QC, SK, YT; USA: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY; Mexico; West Indies; Central America; South America; Eurasia; Africa; Atlantic Islands; Pacific Islands; Australia (FNA 2007). In Montana, known from Flathead, Granite, Lake, and Missoula Counties (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 7

(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)

Acidic rock, limestone, soil, sunlit rocks, cliffs, tree branches, asphalt shingles and road boundaries. Elevation: From 0 (FNA 2007) to 8268 feet (Kosovich-Anderson 2015).

Reproductive Characteristics
Autoicous (Lawton 1971). Perichaetial bracts fringed with long ciliate hairs on the awns and upper leaf margins. Sheath surrounding base of the seta covered with hairs. Seta reddish-brown, sturdy, obscured in the perichaetial bracts (FNA 2007). Capsules sub-globose, ca 1 mm in length, lacking a peristome, also hidden in bracts (Lawton 1971).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • 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. 2014. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 28. Bryophytes: Mosses, Part 2. Oxford University Press, Inc., NY. xxi + 702 pp.
    • Kosovich-Anderson, Y. I. 2015. Mosses of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming, U.S.A.: New Altitudinal Records for North America. Arctoa 24:141-147.
    • Lawton, E. 1971. Moss Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Hattori Botanical Laboratory. Japan: Yamabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. 362 pages plus appendices.
    • Smith, A.J.E. 1980. The Moss Flora of Britain and Ireland. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 705 pp.
    • 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.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Hedwig's Fringeleaf Moss"
Login Logout
Citation for data on this website:
Hedwig's Fringeleaf Moss — Hedwigia ciliata.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from