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Montana Field Guides

Mucron-leaf Tortula Moss - Tortula mucronifolia

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
Plants: Acrocarpous (Vitt 1988). Growing in open, upright tufts or scattered (Lawton 1971), green or deep green above (FNA 2007), sometimes tinted with ochre or yellow (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981). Stems 1 cm in height (rarely taller), occasionally branched (Lawton 1971); possessing a central strand (FNA 2007).

Leaves: Contorted and spiraled when dry, spreading a little when wet, 2-5 mm in length, 0.6-1.5 mm in width (Lawton 1971), lance-shaped tending toward rectangular, or obovate, the leaf tip rounded and more or less acute (FNA 2007); margins tightly rolled back and downward in the proximal 1/2 to 2/3 (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981); costa robust, extending beyond the apex to form a mucro, the mucro yellow, smooth or finely saw-toothed proximally (Lawton 1971).

Leaf Cells: Base sometimes bordered with several series of cells having thicker walls (1-3:1) (FNA 2007), the border sometimes unclear (Lawton 1971); upper laminal cells 6-sided, the angles smoothed, isodiametric, lacking papillae or the papillae faint; basal cells rectangular and fine-walled (FNA 2007), hyaline (Lawton 1971); costa with hydroid strand, dorsal stereid band (FNA 2007), and 2 guide cells (Lawton 1971).

Fruit ripens during the summer (FNA 2007).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Tortula subulata is closely related but has a border more developed and highly papillose medial laminal cells. Intermediate forms occur where their ranges intersect (FNA 2007).

Range Comments
North American Range

AK to NL and NS, extending s to PA, the states surrounding the Great Lakes, and also to NE, NM, AZ, and CA (FNA 2007); Mexico (Baja California) (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981). In Montana, known from Beaverhead, Carbon, Cascade, Fallon, Flathead, Gallatin, Glacier, Hill, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Madison, Meagher, Missoula, Park, Ravalli, Roosevelt, and Sweet Grass Counties (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 13

(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)

Calcareous soil in cliff fissures and on shelves, protected places among rocks (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981). Elevation: 0-8860 feet (FNA 2007).

Reproductive Characteristics
Autoicous. Seta 10-20 mm in length, carrying the capsule well beyond the perichaetial leaves. Capsule upright, straight or weakly curved, the theca 3-6 mm in length; peristome teeth filamentous (FNA 2007), orange or rarely pale red (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981), spiraled at least 1 full revolution (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.
    • Lawton, E. 1971. Moss Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Hattori Botanical Laboratory. Japan: Yamabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. 362 pages plus appendices.
    • 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.
    • Malcolm, B., N. Malcolm, J. Shevock, and D. Norris. 2009. California Mosses. Nelson, New Zealand: Micro-Optics Press. 430 pp.
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Citation for data on this website:
Mucron-leaf Tortula Moss — Tortula mucronifolia.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from