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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare plants, contact:
Kevin Doyle
608-416-3377

Mountain Fir Moss (Huperzia appressa)

Life history

Species overview

Mountain Fir Moss (Huperzia appressa), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found on exposed cliffs and talus slopes. The optimal identification period for this species is late July through early September.

Synonyms: None

Identification

  • Distinguishing characteristics: Leaves entire, the mature upper ones 2 to 3.5 mm long (much shorter than all other species of the genera found in our region), no annual constrictions. Distiguished by its entire leaves from H. lucidula (leaves toothed at the tip) and from H. selago by lack of annual growth constrictions and multiple psuedowhorls of bulblets produced throughout the mature portion (vs. only 1 pseudowhorl).
  • Flower characteristics:
  • Fruit characteristics: Spores 29 to 35 microns, born in clusters in axils of sporophyll, which resemble other leaves.
  • Leaf characteristics: Narrowly triangular, entire, green to yellow-green; leaves on the juvenile lower portion longer (4 to 6 mm) than the upper mature portion (2 to 3.5 mm).

Phenology

  • Blooming phenology:
  • Fruiting phenology: summer
  • Optimum time to identify: late July through early September

Other

  • Growth form: Fern ally
  • Vegetative reproduction: Bulblets (gemmae), with bulblet bearing branchlets produced throughout the mature portion
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Trisetum spicatum, Primula mistassinica, Fragaria virginiana, Solidago hispida, Agrostis scabra, Alnus incana ssp. rugosa, A. viridis ssp. crispa.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Mountain Fir Moss (Huperzia appressa). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Huperzia appressa in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.


Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found on exposed cliffs and talus slopes.
  • Soils: Damp, acidic soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Mountain Fir Moss. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Dry Cliff 2
Moist Cliff 2

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Mountain Fir Moss. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Mountain Fir Moss (Huperzia appressa) has very few known occurrences in the state and is of the highest priority for conservation; we encourage you to consult with your District Ecologist or NHI Botanist for specific recommendations for your site.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid direct disturbance to sensitive microsites such as seeps, cliffs, and moss-covered boulders.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Buffer management around unique microhabitats such as ephemeral ponds, seeps, etc.
  • Follow BMPs, especially around streams and use care near ravines, steep slopes, cliffs, rock outcrops, etc.

Photos


Mountain Fir Moss  Photo.

Scanned specimen courtesy of Wisconsin Herbarium

Mountain Fir Moss  Photo.

Scanned specimen courtesy of Wisconsin Herbarium


Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Monday, April 30, 2018
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