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A Syntrichia Moss - Syntrichia caninervis
Other Names:  Tortula caninervis, Tortula bistratosa

Status Under Review
Native Species

Global Rank: G5?
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 4/5/2000. In MT according to FNA 2014.
General Description
Plants: Acrocarpous (Vitt 1988). Growing in somewhat open to crowded tufts (Flowers 1973), frequently creating large carpets, somewhat reddish-green (like olives) or with black tones. Stems 3-20 mm in length (FNA 2007), occasionally forked; central strand absent (Lawton 1971).

Leaves: Sometimes spiraled around the stem a little, appressed, overlapping, and folded in toward the center when dry, upright and spreading somewhat when wet, 1-2.5 mm in length, 0.6-1.2 mm in width, egg- to spatula-shaped (FNA 2007), cupped, particularly near the apex; margins unbordered (Lawton 1971), smooth, tightly rolled out and downward throughout; apex a short acumen or acute; costa extending beyond the leaf tip to form an awn; awn black or brown (no red), transparent proximally, saw-toothed, with the many, sometimes stellate, papillae occasionally creating a frosted look (FNA 2007).

Leaf Cells: Costa in X-section with 2-4 guide cells (Lawton 1971) and sub-stereid cells; lamina with 2 or more cell layers, sometimes sprinkled with 1-layered regions (FNA 2007), particular below (Lawton 1971), the cells not swollen; upper cells somewhat swollen, round, square, or with sides varying, covered with low and numerous papillae, the papillae 4-6 per cell (FNA 2007), simple or lobed (Lawton 1971); basal cells large, transparent, smooth, and fine-walled, well-demarcated, more slender at the margins (FNA 2007); margins frequently of 2 cell layers their whole length (Lawton 1971).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Unlike Tortula ruralis with its sometimes rosy costal base, T. caninervis has no traces of red in its costa (FNA 2007).

Range Comments
North American Range

Canada: BC and AB; USA: WA to MT, s to CA, AZ, and NM (FNA 2007). Known in Montana from Big Horn, Rosebud, and Sanders Counties (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 2

(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)

Soil in deserts or semiarid grasslands. Montane and higher elevations (FNA 2007).

Reproductive Characteristics
Dioicous. Seta 6-14 mm tall (Lawton 1971), brown. Capsule 1.5-3.2 mm in length, red, sometimes bowed a little, with a clear neck; peristome with 32 reddish and papillose thread-like divisions spiraled together (FNA 2007) in 1.5 or more revolutions (Flowers 1973).

Specialized vegetative reproduction lacking (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.
    • Flowers, S. 1973. Mosses: Utah and the West. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. 567 p.
    • 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:
A Syntrichia Moss — Syntrichia caninervis.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from