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A Peatmoss - Sphagnum platyphyllum
Other Names:  A Sphagnum Moss

Status Under Review
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SU

Agency Status


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General Description
Plants: Possessing just a few branches or none, green, brown, sometimes with yellowish tones; capitulum not well-developed but the terminal bud in its center is prominent (FNA 2007).

Stems and Stem Leaves: Stems green, brown (FNA 2007). Stem leaves comparable to the branch leaves, 1.2-2.3 mm in length, 0.8-2 mm in width, cupped (Smith 1980), spreading, widely egg-shaped, straight, the apex curved (FNA 2007).

Branches and Branch Leaves: Branches, if present, short and rounded, seldom many, green, the pendent and spreading branches comparable, the branch clusters consisting of 1-3 branches, 1 or 2 of them spreading. Branch leaves widely egg-shaped, 1.4-2.5 mm in length (occasionally slightly longer), straight, the tip rounded (FNA 2007).

Stem and Stem Leaf Cells: Outermost cortical cells swollen and fine-walled, usually in 2-3 tiers occasionally patches may be only 1-tiered (FNA 2007), those on the external surface usually with one pore at their distal end (Smith 1980). Hyaline cells of the stem leaves not partitioned, the outer (convex) leaf surface showing an abundance of tiny pores lined up uninterruptedly along the margins juxtaposed to the green cells, the concave (inner) leaf surface lacking a display of pores or showing a small number of pores sprinkled along the cell margins and at the ends of the cells.

Branch and Branch Leaf Cells: Branch stems enclosed by 1 layer of swollen, fine-walled retort cells that lack fibrils and are typically intermixed with rectangular cells that lack pores. Hyaline cells of the branch leaves like those of the stem leaves, fibrillose; green cells in X-section exposed similarly on both surfaces or slightly more at the convex leaf surface (FNA 2007), occasionally just barely hidden at the concave surface, barrel-shaped (Smith 1980), the end walls of normal thickness (FNA 2007).

Fruit ripens the last part of spring into the first part of summer (FNA 2007).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Size and branch clusters variable, with some plants unforked and others with as many as 3 branches in each fascicle. Recognition is aided by the paucity of pendent branches, which reveals the spreading stem leaves (FNA 2007).

Range Comments
North American Range

Canada: YT, and most provinces of the southern tier; USA: northeastern states s to NY, also OH, IN, MI, WI and MN, and the western states of MT, WY, CO, OR, CA and AZ (FNA 2007). Known in Montana from Meagher and Park 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)

Minerotrophic environments, such as lake and stream margins, and fen margins, particularly if there is a periodic flooding of nutrients (FNA 2007); wet soil and peat (Elliott 2016).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous. Fruiting infrequently (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.
    • 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.
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Citation for data on this website:
A Peatmoss — Sphagnum platyphyllum.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from