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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Common Puzzle Moss - Weissia controversa

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNR

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

General Description
Plants: Acrocarpous (Crum & Anderson et al. 1981), growing in short, erect patches (FNA 2007), green or green with yellow tones distally, somewhat brown below (Flowers 1973). Stems simple or frequently somewhat branched (Lawton 1971), 3-5(10) mm in height (Flowers 1973); central strand present (FNA 2007).

Leaves: Contorted when dry, spreading somewhat when wet, becoming bigger above (Flowers 1973), lance-shaped (FNA 2007), narrowing from an oblong base (Flowers 1973), sometimes with slight shoulders (FNA 2007); margins smooth, mostly involute above (Flowers 1973); apex acute, flat or grooved, more or less mucronate (FNA 2007) from the short excurrent costa (Malcolm & Malcolm (2009).

Leaf Cells: Costa with dorsal stereid band larger than the ventral band, in X-section the dorsal band crescent-shaped, the guide cells present in one row, the ventral cells nearly square or slightly elongated (sometimes more so near the tip), and the hydroid strand lacking; distal medial cells nearly square to 6-sided with 2-6 papillae per lumen, the papillae 2-lobed or occasionally like tiny teeth, sometimes merged into one large papilla coating the lumen; basal cells oblong or diamond-shaped (FNA 2007), smooth, those at the attachment fine-walled and swollen (Flowers 1973).

Range Comments
North American Range

Throughout most of Canada and the USA except for a handful (mostly in the northern central region of the USA); Mexico (FNA 2007). Known in Montana from Carter, Flathead, Glacier, Lake, Powder River, and Roosevelt Counties (Elliott 2016).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 3

(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)

On soil (Elliott 2016) or rock, weedy habitats, e.g. along roads or in fields (FNA 2007).

Reproductive Characteristics
Monoicous. Perichaetial leaves similar to or slightly larger than stem leaves. Seta 3-8 mm in length (FNA 2007), more or less yellow (Flowers 1973). Capsules 0.8-1.5 mm in length, deep yellow brown to russet, finely wrinkled to strongly furrowed when dry; lid generally falling with the calyptra (Flowers 1973); calyptra hood-like (cucullate) (FNA 2007).

Vegetative reproduction by rhizoidal gemmae seemingly rare (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.
    • 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.
    • 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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    • 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.
    • Smith, A.J.E. 1980. The Moss Flora of Britain and Ireland. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 705 pp.
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Citation for data on this website:
Common Puzzle Moss — Weissia controversa.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from