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Montana Field Guides

Pipecleaner Moss - Rhytidiopsis robusta

Native Species

Global Rank: G4
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
Plants: Pleurocarpous (Vitt 1988). Stems lime-green to brownish (Lawton 1971), prostrate to ascending, up to 12 cm, the diameter 3-8 mm (thick with overlapping leaves), erratically and distantly branched, the ends hooked; paraphyllia numerous, 1- to 2-seriate near the base with 1-seriate branches (FNA 2014).

Leaves: Stem leaves upright to spreading, close together, falcate-secund, lance-shaped to ovate, conspicuously furrowed below, wrinkled above, 2.5-5.3 mm in length, 1.2-2.2 mm in width; margins smooth to finely toothed, finely serrate at apex (FNA 2014), curved backward at base and frequently below the apex serrations (Lawton 1971); apex acuminate; costa double, extending 1/4 to 1/2 leaf length. Branch leaves smaller, but resembling stem leaves, 2.2-4 mm in length, 0.9-1.3 mm in width (FNA 2014).

Leaf Cells: Laminal cells smooth; alar cells more or less distinct (FNA 2014), rectangular to nearly square or irregular; basal cell walls thick and porose, the cells elongating, walls thinning, and becoming nonporose toward middle of leaf (Lawton 1971).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Plants tend to be smaller in the high tundra and subalpine forests; leaves are about 2.5 mm in length and the foliose stems 3-4 mm in diameter (FNA 2014).

Species Range

Range Comments
Canada: AB, BC; USA: AK, CO, ID, MT, OR, WA (FNA 2014). In Montana, known from Fergus, Flathead, Glacier, Granite, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Missoula, Powell, Ravalli, Sanders, and Sweet Grass Counties (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 281

(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)

Soil, duff, and stones in coniferous forests, sometimes in high tundra. Elevation 980-8200 feet (FNA 2014).

This species is often an indicator of cold-air drainage.

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous. Seta 1.7-3 cm (FNA 2014), brown. Capsule brown (Lawton 1971), bowed when dry, oval-shaped when wet, 2-3.4 mm in length; exostome teeth unevenly and transversely furrowed to somewhat networked (FNA 2014). Female and male plants similar; perigonia frequently 2-3 together, the bracts concave and about 0.8 mm in length; the perichaetial bracts to 4 mm in length, enfolding the stem (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.
    • 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:
Pipecleaner Moss — Rhytidiopsis robusta.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from