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Montana Field Guides

Fertile Floodplain Moss - Leskea polycarpa

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

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General Description
Plants: Pleurocarpous, growing in mats (FNA 2014), pale green, turning brownish with age. Stems 10-35 mm in length (Lawton 1971), only slightly radiculose; branches spreading, the ends bowed; paraphyllia sparse (FNA 2014), lance-shaped or in threads 1 cell in width (Lawton 1971).

Stem Leaves: Upright to curved back and downward a little, spreading when damp, the width definitely shorter than the length, 0.8-1.2 mm in length (FNA 2014), approximately 0.3-0.6 mm in width (Lawton 1971), egg- to lance-shaped, narrowing to a nearly secund and tilted acumen; leaf edges flat to curved back and down below; costa not reaching the apex (FNA 2014).

Branch Leaves: Distinct from stem leaves, distant to somewhat densely arranged, occasionally pleated on either side of the costa, smaller than the stem leaves, sometimes reaching 0.8 mm in length, lance-shaped tending toward egg-shaped, narrowing to a nearly secund and slanted acumen (FNA 2014); leaf edges flat to curved back and down below; costa nearly reaching the leaf tip, generally not as strong as in the stem leaves (FNA 2014).

Leaf Cells: Upper laminal cells with papillae on the dorsal surface; upper and medial cells erratically square to 6-sided, thick-walled; alar cells nearly square, scarcely distinct from adjacent cells (FNA 2014).

Fruit ripens from early spring through mid-autumn (FNA 2014).

Range Comments
North American Range

AK, BC to NL and NS, WA to CA, ID, MT, CO, ND to NE, TX, and most states east to the coastal states (FNA 2014). Known in Montana from Cascade, Flathead, Glacier, Missoula, and Roosevelt Counties (Elliott and Pipp 2016).

Moist soil around bottoms of trees, stones, wood, in damp, low areas along watercourses (FNA 2014), in spots exposed to inundation (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981). Occurring from lowlands to medium altitudes (FNA 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Autoicous. Perigonia occurring on the main stem. Perichaetial bracts on main stem, seldom on secondary branches, upright and light brown. Seta 7-12 mm tall, brown with orange or red tones. Capsule upright, borne far beyond the perichaetial bracts, ochre or more brown, bowed (FNA 2014) to straight (Lawton 1971), 2-3 mm in length (FNA 2014); exostome teeth 16, the tips papillose (Lawton 1971), taller than the endostome processes (FNA 2014); endostome processes perforate on the keel (Lawton 1971); cilia rudimentary when present (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.
    • 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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    • 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:
Fertile Floodplain Moss — Leskea polycarpa.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from