Search Field Guide
Advanced Search
MT Gov Logo
Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Pinkstink Dung Moss - Splachnum sphaericum
Other Names:  A Dung Moss, Splachnum ovatum

Status Under Review
Native Species

Global Rank: G4G5
State Rank: SNR
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Had been ranked SU and given Distribution Confidence in BIOTICS as "Reported but unconfirmed". Rank not updated since 4/22/1997. In MT according to FNA 2014.
General Description
Plants: Acrocarpous (Vitt 1988). Growing in soft, upright and open clumps, pale green or green with yellow tones (FNA 2014) above, brownish below. Stems frequently forked (Lawton 1971), 5-30 mm tall, bearing rhizoids (FNA 2014).

Leaves: Larger and more dense at the top of the stem (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981), a little bent and twisted when dry, spreading when moist (Lawton 1971), 2.5-3.5 mm in length, widely obovate; margins smooth or dentate above, without a border; apex with a short or long narrow acumen; costa extending into acumen but not reaching the apex (FNA 2014).

Leaf Cells: Cells of mid-leaf diamond-shaped to 6-sided; upper cells near the apex 1-2:1 (Smith 1980); lower laminal cells oblong (FNA 2014); marginal cells somewhat colored in 1 or 2 vague rows (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981), frequently longer than the upper cells (Lawton 1971).

Fruit ripens in summer (FNA 2014).

Diagnostic Characteristics
S. sphaericum differs from other North American Splachnum species as the capsule neck (hypophysis) is only slightly wider than the rest of the capsule rather than forming a “skirt” at the top of the seta. Juvenile sporophytes of other Splachnum species, which have yet to turn other colors than green, thus resemble the mature sporophyte of S. sphaericum (before it ages and dries to purple) (FNA 2014).

Tetraplodon mnioides has a similar hypophysis but mostly grows in drier conditions. Its obovate leaves do not taper much before the acumen as do those of S. sphaeroides (FNA 2014).

Range Comments
North American Range

Canada: NT, BC and AB, MB to NL; USA: AK, WA, MT s to CO, MI (FNA 2014). Known in Montana from Flathead County (Elliott 2016).

Droppings of big boreal ungulates (e.g., moose) in boggy areas (Elliott 2016). Elevation: low to high (FNA 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous. Seta 1.5-10 cm tall, slightly bent or twisted, yellow and eventually red-tinged. Capsule red with orange tones; theca 2 mm in length; capsule neck (where it unites with the seta) nearly globose to ovoid, hardly broader than the capsule, green when ripe, becoming russet and creased with age; peristome double, the 16 exostome teeth fused in pairs, brown with with orange tinges (FNA 2014).

  • 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. 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.
    • Smith, A.J.E. 1980. The Moss Flora of Britain and Ireland. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 705 pp.
    • 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.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Pinkstink Dung Moss"
Login Logout
Citation for data on this website:
Pinkstink Dung Moss — Splachnum sphaericum.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from