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A Wing Moss - Isopterygiopsis pulchella

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status


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General Description
Plants: Pleurocarpous, growing in open, slender to thick mats, shiny, pale green to somewhat yellow. Stems prostrate, sometimes reaching 20 mm in length and to 2 mm in width (FNA 2014), the stems and branches seldom in one plane (Lawton 1971); hyalodermis present; rhizoids papillose and in groups in the leaf axils; pseudoparaphyllia and paraphyllia wanting (FNA 2014).

Leaves: Closely-spaced or occasionally remote, spreading to about 45 degrees, sometimes pointing in one direction, barely cupped, 0.5-1.5 mm in length, to 0.4 mm in width, neither wavy nor pleated, slender and lance-shaped, sometimes with ovate tendencies, with a long, slowly-narrowing acumen; base not extending down the stem; leaf edges flat to upright all around, smooth or occasionally with very tiny, fine apical saw-teeth, frequently the alar area with 1 or a couple of cells plainly and finely saw-toothed; costa paired and double, faint, or lacking. Branch leaves similar to stem leaves (FNA 2014).

Leaf Cells: Laminal cells smooth, the walls nonporose; medial laminal cells somewhat long and slender, sometimes a little bent (Lawton 1971); alar cells on the leaf edges square to short and oblong or occasionally not distinct (FNA 2014).

Fruit ripens spring through the last part of summer (FNA 2014).

Range Comments
North American Range

Canada: YT to NU, BC to NL and NS; USA: AK, WA to CA, ID, MT to AZ and NM, SD, MN, MI, PA and NJ, NY VT, NH and ME; Mexico (eastern) (FNA 2014). Known in Montana from Flathead, Gallatin, Glacier, 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)

Shady areas (Lawton 1971), nonbasic bluff fissures, stony embankments, soil on roots of fallen trees, tree bottoms, rotting wood (FNA 2014); in the mountains or northerly latitudes (Lawton 1971). Occurring from lowlands to about 7550 feet elevation (FNA 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Autoicous, fruiting frequently (FNA 2014). Perichaetia and perigonia abundant (Lawton 1971), occurring at stem and branch bottoms. Seta spiraled, russet to red, 10-20 mm tall. Capsule to 2.5 mm in length, yellow to somewhat brown, drooping or nearly so, seldom upright, unbowed to slightly bowed, shrunken below the opening and the neck creased when dry; operculum cone-shaped, sometimes suddenly topped with a short point; exostome teeth 16, bordered, finely-ridged crosswise below on the outer surface, ridged on the inner surface, with papillae above; endostome processes 16, keeled (FNA 2014); cilia 1-3, occasionally not well-developed or lacking (Lawton 1971). Calyptra draping hood-like, hairless (FNA 2014).

Specialized vegetative reproduction via gemmae in axils of stem and branch leaves, the gemmae slender and narrowing at both ends, consisting of 2-6 cells, seldom occurring (FNA 2014).

  • 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.
    • 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
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Crum, H.A. and L.E. Anderson. 1981. Mosses of Eastern North America. 2 volumes. Columbia University Press, New York. 1328 pp.
    • 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.
    • Vitt, D. J. Marsh, and R. Bovey. 1988. Mosses, Lichens & Ferns of Northwest North America. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 296 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
A Wing Moss — Isopterygiopsis pulchella.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from