Search Field Guide
Advanced Search
MT Gov Logo
Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Luminous Moss - Schistostega pennata
Other Names:  Cave Moss, Goblet Gold

Native Species

Global Rank: G4
State Rank: SU
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Distribution data in BIOTICS had Distribution Confidence as "Reported but unconfirmed" with no explanatory notes. FNA 2014 does show this species in Montana.
General Description
Plant: Loose mats or tufts. Olivaceous to brown to black, sometimes with yellowish tones. Stems 1.2-12 cm tall. Central strand of stem in X-S is weak or absent.

Leaf: When dry, leaf is erect or curved, rarely (falcate-) secound. Leaf ovate-lanceolate to ligulate, sharply keeled distally, and 1.3-3.2 mm long. Margins recurved from base to apex or to just below the apex. Margins denticulate distally. Apex acute to sub-obtuse. Costa percurrent or excurrent as an awn. Awn smooth or faintly denticulate, usually papillose on abaxial side, and sometimes decurrent.

Leaf Cells: Basal laminal cells near margin are usually quadrate. Median to upper laminal cells are usually short-rectangular, smooth, sinuose, and 8-10 ┬Ám wide.

Capsules mature from late spring to early summer.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Protonema is persistent and its cells can reflect light, giving off a green-golden color. Look-alikes include the species of Fissidens that also occur on mineral soil. Large cell leaves easily seen with hand lens.

Range Comments
Estimated range greater than 1,000,000 square miles worldwide. Circumboreal but with highly irregular distribution. North America (northern US, Canada), UK, Scandinavia, Europe, Russia, Japan. FNA (2007) more specifically mentions for Canada: AB, BC, NB, NL, NS, ON, QC; and for the USA: AK, ID, ME, MI, MN, MT, NH, NY, OH, OR, RI, VT, WA, WI. Known in Montana from Flathead County (Elliott 2016).

Mineral soil in crevices on the lower, sheltered areas of upturned tree root wads or on cave ceilings, crevices in soil banks, and in animal burrows. Rarely found on the shaded area of deep pits along the upper banks of a perennial stream. Occasionally found on rock. Occurs from low to high elevations (near sea level to 5,600 feet) (FNA 2007).

Reproductive Characteristics
Autoicous. Capsules are dark red or brown, and short-cylindric, 0.7-1.3 mm long.

  • 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. 2007. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 27. Bryophytes: Mosses, Part 1. Oxford University Press, Inc., NY. xxi + 713 pp.
  • 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.
    • Lawton, E. 1971. Moss Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Hattori Botanical Laboratory. Japan: Yamabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. 362 pages plus appendices.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Luminous Moss"
Login Logout
Citation for data on this website:
Luminous Moss — Schistostega pennata.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from