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An Orthothecium Moss - Orthothecium chryseum

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Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

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General Description
Plants: Pleurocarpous (Vitt 1988), growing in clumps of upright shoots, golden, glossy (FNA 2014). Stems red (Lawton 1971), upright or upwardly inclined, 5-10 cm in length; branches few to none, with rhizoids at the base; hyalodermis and pseudoparaphyllia wanting; central strand in attendance (FNA 2014).

Stem Leaves: Similar to branch leaves, upright to spreading a little, overlapping, clearly pleated (FNA 2014), 2-2.5 mm in length, 0.6-1 mm in width (Lawton 1971), lance-shaped to deltoid, in either case with oblong tendencies, narrowing to the short acumen; base extending down the stem a little; leaf edges curved back and down in part, smooth; costa wanting or paired, extremely short (FNA 2014).

Leaf Cells: Laminal cells not papillose; upper cells typically greater than 6:1; medial laminal cells longer and narrower than the basal laminal cells (FNA 2014); basal cells russet, with thick, porose walls (Lawton 1971); alar cells oblong (FNA 2014), not distinct from adjacent cells (Lawton 1971).

Orthothecium chryseum var. chryseum: Present in Montana. Leaves cupped (FNA 2014).

Orthothecium chryseum var. cochleariifolium: Leaves deeply cupped (FNA 2014), somewhat like the bowl of a spoon (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981).

Variety chryseum: Fruit ripens in spring to the first part of summer (FNA 2014).

Variety cochleariifolium: Fruit maturation time unknown (FNA 2014).

Range Comments
North American Range

Variety chryseum: AK to NU, BC and AB, MB to NL, MT, CO (FNA 2014). Known in Montana from Flathead and Glacier Counties (Elliott and Pipp 2016).

Variety cochleariifolium: NU (FNA 2014).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 4

(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)

Variety chryseum: Wet soil and stone (Lawton 1971) and humus, damp stone shelves, facets, and fissures, wet areas such as along watercourses and seepy slopes of loose rock, excrement, calcicolous; typically alpine. Occurring from lowlands to about 12,800 feet elevation (FNA 2014).

Variety cochleariifolium: Damp areas in Arctic tundra; calcicolous. Occurring from lowlands to elevations of 3610 feet (FNA 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous, with sporophytes seldom produced. Perigonia and perichaetia borne near stem base. Seta smooth, spiraled, somewhat brown with yellow tones. Capsule upright, 1.5-1.8 mm in length, shrunken proximal to the opening when dry; stomata few, occurring at the bottom of the theca; operculum cone-shaped; exostome teeth 16, light yellow, widely lance-shaped, with a zigzagged mid-line on the outer surface, fine lines below, and papillae above; endostome processes 16, equaling or surpassing the teeth height (FNA 2014); cilia usually but not always short (Lawton 1971). Calyptra hairless and draping hood-like (FNA 2014).

Variety chryseum: Sporophytes rare (FNA 2014).

Variety cochleariifolium: Sporophytes not known (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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
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Citation for data on this website:
An Orthothecium Moss — Orthothecium chryseum.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from