Dicranum montanum
“mountain fork moss”

Dicranum montanum photo by Bob Klips

Dicranum montanum at a woodlot in Delaware county, Ohio. March 14, 2013.

How to recognize mountain fork moss: Dicranum montanum is a small, short, cushion moss with crowded 2-4 mm lanceolate leaves that are tightly twisted when dry, erect and curved when wet. Often it is found with weak flexuose branches with strongly crisped tiny leaves, in the upper leaf axils (between leaf and stem). These let the plant reproduce asexually when they fall off, since each branchlet can grown into a plant. When capsules are present, they are erect. Microscopically the leaves have one layer of distinct enlarged reddish brown alar cells at the base of the leaf; this distinguishes them from Dicranella, which is another small cushion moss. D. montanum also has bulging-papillose cells at the back of the leaf. The upper part of the leaf is keeled and has quadrate cells.

Where to find mountain fork moss: Dicranum montanum is common on bark at the base of trees, as well as on logs and stumps.