Search Field Guide
Advanced Search
MT Gov Logo
Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Pompom Hair Peatmoss - Sphagnum capillifolium
Other Names:  Northern Peatmoss

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status


External Links

General Description
Plants: Typically rigid and upright, a mix of reds (FNA 2007) and pinks (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981) and green in open habitats, often green when shaded, with a rounded capitulum (FNA 2007).

Stems and Stem Leaves: Stems red to green. Stem leaves trigonal and somewhat tongue-shaped, 1.2-1.8 mm in length (FNA 2007), longer than wide, ca 2:1 or longer (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981); apex rolled up and inward to varying degrees; border smooth and widened proximally (FNA 2007).

Branches and Branch Leaves: Branch stems green, round in X-section, dimorphic, occurring in clusters of 3-4 branches, 2 of those spreading. Branch leaves appressed to the stem or somewhat spreading, lance- and somewhat egg-shaped, cupped and straight, 1-1.4 mm in length; apex strongly inrolled; margins smooth (FNA 2007).

Stem and Stem Leaf Cells: Outermost cortical cells of the stem in 2-4 tiers, fine-walled, swollen, lacking both fibrils and pores. Hyaline cells of the stem leaves S-shaped, partitioned once or not at all, typically with fibrils in the upper part of the leaf (FNA 2007); inner leaf surface considerably resorbed, outer surface remaining intact (Smith 1980).

Branch and Branch Leaf Cells: Branch stems encircled by 1 layer of swollen, fine-walled hyaline cells that lack fibrils, occasionally in clusters of 1-pored retort cells. Hyaline cells of the branch leaves with oval pores along the margins juxtaposed to the green cells at the outer leaf surface, and with big circular pores located away from the margins in the lower part of the leaf; green cells deltoid to trapezoidal in X-section, showing on both leaf surfaces, more widely so on the inner leaf surface, the end walls not great in depth (FNA 2007).

Fruit ripens in the middle part of summer (FNA 2007).

Range Comments
North American Range

Canada: Known in all provinces and territories; USA: in many of the northeastern states, s to VA and TN and w to IL, also MN and SD, w and nw to the coastal states, including CA (FNA 2007). Known in Montana from Flathead, Glacier, and Lincoln Counties (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 28

(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)

Living in mineral-poor environments with a wide range of acidity; growing in crowded mats on acidic rocks (FNA 2007), wet peat and soil (Elliott 2016). It typically grows on the flanks and tops of existing hummocks, but also pioneers hummocks in wet, weakly minerotrophic areas of bog carpets (Crum and Anderson et al. 1981); shuns dense shade and extremely wet areas (Smith 1980).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous. Fruit common. Capsules 2 mm or less in length (FNA 2007).

  • 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. 2007. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 27. Bryophytes: Mosses, Part 1. Oxford University Press, Inc., NY. xxi + 713 pp.
    • Smith, A.J.E. 1980. The Moss Flora of Britain and Ireland. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 705 pp.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Elliot, J. C. 1993. Second checklist of Montana mosses. Unpublished report. U.S. Forest Service, Region 1. Missoula, MT. 45 pp.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Pompom Hair Peatmoss"
Login Logout
Citation for data on this website:
Pompom Hair Peatmoss — Sphagnum capillifolium.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from