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Meadow Hypnum Moss - Hypnum pratense
Other Names:  Marsh Fern Moss

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
Plants: Pleurocarpous, growing in interwoven mats (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981), light green to green with golden tones, very shiny. Stems upright to prostrate, growing largely in one plane (FNA 2014), nearly pinnately-branched (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981) to freely branching or branches lacking, 5-30 mm in length; branches 1-3 mm in length; hyalodermis and central strand both present; pseudoparaphyllia leafy; rhizoids few to none (FNA 2014), cortical stem cells big and somewhat transparent (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981).

Stem Leaves: Somewhat densely spaced, spreading a little, the tips (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981) occasionally curved in sickle-like fashion, not strongly turned in one direction, 0.5-1.8 mm in length, to 0.5 mm in width (FNA 2014), a little cupped, not pleated (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981), egg-shaped, narrowing to the widely acute leaf tip (FNA 2014), the base slightly extending down the stem (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981); leaf edges flat and smooth (FNA 2014) or often finely saw-toothed apically (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981); costa paired or lacking; branch leaves akin to stem leaves (FNA 2014).

Leaf Cells: Upper laminal cells somewhat long and very slender (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981), not papillose; medial laminal cells longer and narrower than the basal cells; basal laminal cells somewhat yellow with pitted walls; alar cell region not clearly defined (FNA 2014).

Sporophytes appear in spring and summer. Fruit ripens in summer (FNA 2014).

Diagnostic Characteristics
The similar Hypnum lindbergii is not shiny, its alar cells are fine-walled and the alar region is well-delineated. H. pratense plants are shiny, and lack distinctive alar cells (FNA 2014).

Range Comments
North American Range

AK to NU, BC to NL and NS, OR, MT, CO, SD, MN, WI and IL, KY, NC, MI, OH ne to ME (FNA 2014). Known in Montana from Flathead, Lake, and Lincoln Counties (Elliott and Pipp 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 6

(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)

Calcicolous in northern habitats, soil and humus of wet, exposed places such as rich fens, Carex meadows, and seeps (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981), also on wet stones, frequently in bogs (Lawton 1971). Occurring from lowlands to about 9840 feet elevation (FNA 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous, sporophytes uncommon. Exterior perichaetial bracts bent back and downward; interior perichaetial bracts upright, pleated, with a narrow acumen, the edges faintly dentate or smooth at the tip, the costa faint. Seta 20-40 mm tall, somewhat red, smooth. Capsule 1-2 mm in length, light brown (FNA 2014), strongly tilted to level, bowed, not grooved (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981); operculum cone-shaped; exostome teeth 16, with a zigzag line on the outer face, fine lines or ridges below, and papillae above; endostome processes 16, similar in height as the teeth, keeled, cilia present. Calyptra hairless and draping hood-like (FNA 2014).

  • 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. 2014. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 28. Bryophytes: Mosses, Part 2. Oxford University Press, Inc., NY. xxi + 702 pp.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Flowers, S. 1973. Mosses: Utah and the West. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. 567 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.
    • Lawton, E. 1971. Moss Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Hattori Botanical Laboratory. Japan: Yamabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. 362 pages plus appendices.
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Citation for data on this website:
Meadow Hypnum Moss — Hypnum pratense.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from