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Montana Field Guides

Mendocino Peatmoss - Sphagnum mendocinum

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G4G5
State Rank: S1

Agency Status


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General Description
Plants: Growing in crowded mats (Malcolm & Malcolm 2009), chartreuse, or green with pale brown tones, the end buds swollen (FNA 2007).

Stems and Stem Leaves: Stems chartreuse. Stem leaves usually flattened to the stem, 1.2-1.5 mm in length, widely oblong-deltoid; apex blunt (FNA 2007).

Branches and Branch Leaves: Branches green, frequently 5-ranked, dimorphic, the spreading branches coarser and broader than the drooping (pendent) ones, with 2-3 drooping and 2 spreading branches in each cluster. Branch leaves lightly appressed and overlapping, egg- to lance-shaped, 2-3.5 mm in length, margins smooth; straight; plane, the edges wavy, and the apex folded back and downward when dry (FNA 2007).

Stem and Stem Leaf Cells: Stem outermost cortex consisting of 1-2 tiers of somewhat inflated cells with thin walls that are without ornaments, the exposed layer without pores. Hyaline cells of the stem leaves thin, typically lacking partitions, without pores and fibrils near the apex on the convex leaf surface, lacking fibrils but with variable pores along the cell margins on the distal concave leaf surface (FNA 2007).

Branch and Branch Leaf Cells: Branch stems enveloped in 1 layer of cortical cells having evident necks and lacking fibrils. Hyaline cells of the branch leaves with many pores, ringed and unringed, along the margins of the concave leaf surface, ca 20-27 pores per cell in the lower part of the leaf, 5-12 pores per cell in the upper portion of the leaf, the convex leaf surface with 14-21 pores per cell below and 5-15 above, mostly without a ring; green cells in X-section deltoid or trapezoidal in shape, exposed on both surfaces, but only slightly so on the concave leaf surface, the exposed walls not of great depth (FNA 2007).

Species Range

Range Comments
Known only in North America.

AK, BC s to CA, ID and MT (FNA 2007). In Montana: Flathead and Missoula Counties (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 7

(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)

Wet soil and peat (Elliott 2016), under or floating on water with low mineral content, wet hollows in coniferous and Alnus swamps, elevated bogs, drainage channels. Elevation: Low to medium (FNA 2007).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous. Sporophytes not common. Capsule under 2 mm in length and with few pseudostomata (FNA 2007).

  • 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.
    • Malcolm, B., N. Malcolm, J. Shevock, and D. Norris. 2009. California Mosses. Nelson, New Zealand: Micro-Optics Press. 430 pp.
  • 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.
    • Lawton, E. 1971. Moss Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Hattori Botanical Laboratory. Japan: Yamabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. 362 pages plus appendices.
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Citation for data on this website:
Mendocino Peatmoss — Sphagnum mendocinum.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from