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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Redstem Feathermoss - Pleurozium schreberi
Other Names:  Big Red Stem

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
Pleurocarpous, robust (Vitt 1988), creeping in open mats or tufts, shiny lime-green to green. Stems procumbent to nearly upright, with branching erratic to more regularly pinnate and often flattened in one plane (Lawton 1971), conspicuously red, lacking paraphyllia (Vitt 1988).

Leaves: Overlapping somewhat, causing stems to resemble catkins; stem leaves larger than branch leaves, ovate or widely so (Smith 1978), 2-2.8 mm in length (Lawton 1971), 0.8-1.5 mm in width (FNA 2014); apex curved to obtuse (Smith 1978), sometimes apiculate (Lawton 1971), margins smooth, curving inward near apex; costa lacking or double and quite short (Smith 1978). Branch leaves resembling stem leaves (Lawton 1971).

Leaf Cells: Laminal cells thick, pitted (Smith 1978); alar region distinct, the cells yellow to ochre, somewhat square and swollen (Lawton 1971); cells above narrowly-elongate, length 8-16 times the width (Smith 1978); medial cells noticeably longer than apical cells (FNA 2014).

Species Range

Range Comments
Greenland; St. Pierre and Miquelon; Canada: AB, BC, MB, NB, NL, NT, NS, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT; USA: AK, AL, AR, CO, CT, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY; Mexico; Central America; South America; Eurasia; Africa; Atlantic Islands (FNA 2014). In Montana, known from Carbon, Carter, Cascade, Deer Lodge, Flathead, Gallatin, Glacier, Lake, Lincoln, Madison, Missoula, Park, Powell, Ravalli, and Sanders Counties (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 228

(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)

Humus and decaying wood in coniferous forest (Elliott 2016), rock, occasionally bogs and fens; mostly forest inhabitants, seldom residing in Arctic tundra. Elevation: 0-9840 feet (FNA 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous (Lawton 1971).Seta 1.5-4.3 cm in length (FNA 2014), brownish-red. Capsule slightly tilted to horizontal, nodding, the theca 2-2.5 mm in length, smooth or a little furrowed under the mouth when dry; operculum cone-shaped, ca 1 mm in length (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.
    • 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.
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Citation for data on this website:
Redstem Feathermoss — Pleurozium schreberi.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from