BFNA Title: Ptilium
Author:  W. B. Schofield
Date: January 17, 2006
Edit Level: R Brum+
Version: 1

Bryophyte Flora of North America, Provisional Publication
Missouri Botanical Garden

BFNA Web site:


Return to Home

PTILIUM - Hypnaceae

W. B. Schofield

XXX. PTILIUM De Notaris, Comment. Soc. Crittogamol. Ital. 283 [Cronac. Briol. Ital. 2: 17.]  1867  *   [Greek ptilo-, feather, alluding to the plume-like growth form]


Hypnum sect. Ptilium Sullivant in A. Gray, Man. Bot. No. United States, ed. 2: 673. 1856, name replaced


            Plants medium-sized, forming loose mats of suberect to ascending shiny yellowish green to golden regularly pinnate shoots.  Stems 3--10 cm, with branches 0.3--1.5 cm arising at right angles; main stem tips usually hooked at apex, branches hooked at tip or attenuate.  Leaves of main stem squarrose, 2--3 mm, strongly plicate, broadly ovate, tapering to tip; branch leaves 1--2 mm, oblong-lanceolate, tapering to tip, usually circinate-secund, and pointing toward the base (not underside) of the main shoot, plicate, costa short and double, margins plane, toothed distally; cells smooth, long-linear and flexuose in lamina.  Pseudoparaphyllia foliose.  Specialized asexual reproduction lacking.  Sexual condition dioicous.  Seta smooth, red-brown, 2--3 cm.  Capsule red-brown, arcuate, horizontal 1.5--2 mm, contracted below mouth, operculum long-conic, smooth, annulus narrow; peristome double, exostome red-brown, lanceolate, striolate basally, papillose distally; endostome pale yellow from a broad basal membrane; cilia 2 or 3, nearly equaling segments.  Calyptra cucullate, smooth.  Spores spherical, smooth to finely papillose, 12--16 µm.


Species 1 (1 in flora): North America, Europe, Asia.  Terrestrial habitats in temperate, boreal and subarctic regions.


            Ptilium is a remarkably elegant genus that is usually easily distinguished from Hypnum in the extremely plicate circinate leaves that curve toward the base of the main stem, not to the underside of the stem as in Hypnum.  Plumose individuals of Sanionia are similar but this feature is also reliable, as is the double costa in Ptilium, which is single in Sanionia.


1. Ptilium crista-castrensis (Hedwig) De Not., Comment. Soc. Crittogamol. Ital. 2: 283 [Cronaca Briol. Ital. 2: 17]. 1867


Hypnum crista-castrensis Hedw. Spec. Musc. Frond. 287. 1801


            Plants usually lacking rhizoids, dark green in deeply shaded sites, orange-golden to rusty in exposed sites. 


            Sporophytes are occasional; capsules mature fall. Predominantly on coniferous forest floors but also in tundra, peatland and in deciduous forest, especially in the boreal region; 0--2000 m;  Greenland, Alta., B.C., Man., Nfld., N.B., N.S., N.W.T., Ont., P.E.I., Que., Sask., Yukon; Alaska, Colo., Conn., Idaho, Iowa, Mass., Md., Me., Mich., Minn., Mont., Neb., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Penn., S.Dak., Tenn., Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo.; Eurasia.