Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Hylocomium splendens 


SPECIES: Hylocomium splendens
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Tesky, Julie L. 1992. Hylocomium splendens. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : HYLSPL SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : NO-ENTRY COMMON NAMES : splendid feather moss mountain-fern moss stair-step moss feather moss step moss TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for splendid feather moss is Hylocomium splendens (Hedw.) B.S.G. There are no recognized subspecies, varieties, or forms [9,14,16]. LIFE FORM : Bryophyte FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Hylocomium splendens
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Splendid feather moss occurs from Greenland to Alaska, south to North Carolina, and west to Oregon and California.  It also occurs in the West Indies, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand [9,14,16]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES10  White - red - jack pine    FRES11  Spruce - fir    FRES18  Maple - beech - birch    FRES19  Aspen - birch    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES22  Western white pine    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce    FRES25  Larch    FRES26  Lodgepole pine    FRES44  Alpine STATES :      AK  AZ  CA  CO  CT  DE  ID  IL  IN  IA      KY  ME  MD  MA  MI  MN  MT  NH  NJ  NY      NC  ND  OH  OR  PA  RI  SD  UT  VT  VA      WA  WV  WI  WY  AB  BC  MB  NB  NF  NT      NS  ON  PE  PQ  SK  YT BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     1  Northern Pacific Border     2  Cascade Mountains     3  Southern Pacific Border     4  Sierra Mountains     5  Columbia Plateau     6  Upper Basin and Range     8  Northern Rocky Mountains     9  Middle Rocky Mountains    11  Southern Rocky Mountains    12  Colorado Plateau    13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont    15  Black Hills Uplift    16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K001  Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest    K002  Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest    K003  Silver fir - Douglas-fir forest    K004  Fir - hemlock forest    K005  Mixed conifer forest    K008  Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest    K013  Cedar - hemlock - pine forest    K014  Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest    K015  Western spruce - fir forest    K020  Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest    K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest    K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest    K094  Conifer bog    K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest    K097  Southeastern spruce - fir forest    K107  Northern hardwoods - fir forest    K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest SAF COVER TYPES :      1  Jack pine      5  Balsam fir     12  Black spruce     13  Black spruce - tamarack     18  Paper birch     24  Hemlock - yellow birch     30  Red spruce - yellow birch     31  Red spruce - sugar maple - beech     32  Red spruce     33  Red spruce - balsam fir     34  Red spruce - Fraser fir     35  Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir     37  Northern white-cedar     38  Tamarack    107  White spruce    201  White spruce    202  White spruce - paper birch    204  Black spruce    205  Mountain hemlock    206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir    218  Lodgepole pine    223  Sitka spruce    224  Western hemlock    225  Western hemlock - Sitka spruce    226  Coastal true fir - hemlock    251  White spruce - aspen    253  Black spruce - white spruce    254  Black spruce -  paper birch    256  California mixed subalpine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Splendid feather moss is often an indicator of stable, late stages of succession stands dominated by white spruce (Picea glauca) or black spruce (P. mariana) [17].  Publications listing splendid feather moss as a dominant ground cover are as follows: Field guide to forest ecosystems of west-central Alberta [10]. Flood-plain succession and vegetation classification in interior Alaska [29]. Some forest types of central Newfoundland and their relation to   environmental factors [35]. A review of forest site classification acitivities in Newfoundland and    Labrador [36]. A preliminary classification system for vegetation of Alaska [31].


SPECIES: Hylocomium splendens
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Splendid feather moss is occasionally eaten by deer and caribou [15,22]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : In the past splendid feather moss has been used for covering dirt floors and lining fruit and vegetable storage boxes [25]. Splendid feather moss is still used for chinking log structures in Alaska.  The wet moss is pressed into cracks between logs using a wooden chisel.  When the moss is dry, it remains compressed and stays green for the life of the cabin. In many ways it is preferable to modern material [21].  Splendid feather moss is used by florists to form banks of green in show windows [6]. Splendid feather moss is used in locating pollution sources and determining levels of pollution of heavy metals in the environment [3].  Mountain fern moss absorbs metals over its entire surface and is little influenced by variations in substrate mineralization.  Close to the source, this moss accumulates high levels of metals [25]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : It has been shown that tree canopy removal will kill splendid feather moss, but removal of only the shrub canopy has a less severe effect [7]. Splendid feather moss growth is better in undisturbed areas than in disturbed areas.  Moss growth is so closely balanced with its microclimate that even the removal of a rather open shrub layer can have a measurable effect on growth rates [7].


SPECIES: Hylocomium splendens
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Splendid feather moss is a perennial, relatively large, robust moss, occurring in wide loose patches, and often forming mats [8,14].  Stems are 3.9 to 5.9 inches (10-15 cm) in length.  Splendid feather moss has tiny, long, filamentous rhizoids that can transport soil water remarkably long vertical distances to green surface tissues [23].  The average life span of this moss is 8 years [5]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : NO-ENTRY REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sexual reproduction:  Splendid feather moss reproduces sexually by spores. These spores are wind dispersed.  The period for gametangicel (structure containing the gametes) development for splendid feather moss is 11 months [34]. Vegetative reproduction:  Splendid feather moss reproduces vegetatively by branching laterally.  A new, readily identifiable segment is produced each year arising from the stems of the previous year's growth in a layered or steplike fashion [7,16].  In splendid feather moss, the bud which will develop into the following year's growth layer is formed at the same time that the lateral branches are initiated in the current year's layer, but further development is somehow delayed.  The buds do not start to elongate until the previous segment has completed its growth [7].  Cold treatment is not required for further development, as buds show normal development in material brought into a growth chamber later in the season and kept at temperatures above freezing. Photoperiod also seems not to be a factor.  A small proportion of buds showed some elongation in late September and October, whereas development in the field does not usually take place until the following May or June [7]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Splendid feather moss is abundant and often dominant in coniferous forests on water-shedding and water-receiving sites [18].  On such sites, this moss often develops a mat layer that may be 7.9 to 11.8 inches (20-30 cm) thick [28].  Splendid feather moss also occurs on ledges, humus and decaying wood in cool, moist ravines and mountain woods from sea level to 10,000 feet (0-3,048 m) [14].  This moss is a common moss on dune pastures in Scotland [25]. Splendid feather moss is restricted to areas sheltered by trees and shrubs [7].  It requires shade, moderate water levels, and high nutrient levels.  It is not rooted in the substrate and is nearly independent of the substrate's nutrient and water supply.  Growth is controlled by rainfall frequency and degree of protection from evaporation stress [7]. This moss quickly dries up when the canopy cover is not adequate to prevent high evaporation [17].  Growth rates are highest in habitats protected from evaporation stress, and survival is enhanced in shaded habitats or in environments with high humidity and consistent cloud cover [7]. Splendid feather moss is typically found associated with the following understory species:  salal (Gaultheria shallon), pachystima (Pachystima myrsinites), Shreber's moss (Pleurozium schreberi), Rhytidiadelphus boreus, big huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum), and red huckleberry (V. parvifolium) [18]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Obligate Climax Species Splendid feather moss typically occurs in stable late stages of succession. It is very shade tolerant [7,18,27].  It will replace the shade-intolerant lichens and often becomes the dominant ground cover in late seral to climax stands of white spruce and black spruce [17,28,31]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : The beginning of blooming in mosses is considered to occur when one or two archegonia (female gametophyte) open.  In Hernoesand, Sweden, splendid feather moss first bloomed in July.  The gametangicel developed in May or June of the following year.  In Germany, splendid feather moss first bloomed in May or June and the gametangicel developed in February or May of the following year [2].  Growth of the previous year's layer is usually resumed in early May to mid-June.  In boreal forests, growth rates were high in May, June, and August; growth slowed in October. There appears to be little if any growth activity over the winter months in high-altitude regions [7].


SPECIES: Hylocomium splendens
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Splendid feather moss is not well adapted to fire.  It typically occurs in wet stands of white or black spruce that have a fire regime of 200 to 400 years [31].  When they do burn, the moss/lichen layer provides the major carrier fuels.  These fuels take only minutes to reach equilibrium moisture content when the relative humidity changes; therefore, they are very flammable [23]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Hylocomium splendens
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Splendid feather moss is generally killed by fire, although small patches may survive low-severity fire [31].  Some moss species on burned areas can survive as fragments in the soil [1]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Splendid feather moss takes many years to recover following fire.  Although small patches may survive fire, it is not until a closed or nearly closed canopy is established that splendid feather moss can spread and become the dominant ground cover [31].  Ten to thirty years after fire, splendid feather moss will replace the early successional mosses and liverworts.  In mesic, high-nutrient habitats, splendid feather moss generally appears 30 to 50 years after fire and quickly becomes the most abundant ground cover [17].  However, in Finland, splendid feather moss began appearing 10 years after fire.  Recovery was slow and 50 years after fire, this moss still had not reached prefire levels [1]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : For information on prescribed fire and postfire response of many plant species, including splendid feather moss, see Hamilton's Research Papers (Hamilton 2006a, Hamilton 2006b, Hamilton 2006c) and these Research Project Summaries: FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY

References for species: Hylocomium splendens

1. Ahlgren, C. E. 1974. Effects of fire on temperate forests: north central United States. In: Kozlowski, T. T.; Ahlgren, C. E., eds. Fire and ecosystems. New York: Academic Press: 195-223. [7198]
2. Arnell, H. W. 1905. Phaenological observations of mosses. Bryologist. 8: 41-44. [18664]
3. Barclay-Estrup, P.; Rinne, R. J. K. 1978. Lead and zinc accumulation in two feather mosses. Oikos. 30(1): 106-108. [18665]
4. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434]
5. Binkley, Dan; Graham, Rob. 1981. Biomass, production, and nutrient cycling of mosses in an old-growth Douglas-fir forest. Ecology. 62(5): 1387-1389. [8177]
6. Bland, John H. 1971. Forests of Lilliput. The realm of mosses and lichens. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 210 p. [18663]
7. Busby, J. R.; Bliss, L. C.; Hamilton, C. D. 1978. Microclimate control of growth rates and habitats of the boreal forest mosses, Tomenthypnum nitens and Hylocomium splendens. Ecological Monographs. 48(2): 95-110. [18666]
8. Chapman, Clara J.; Sanborn, Ethel I. 1941. Moss flora of the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Oregon State Monographs. Studies in Botany No. 4. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University. 72 p. [18661]
9. Conard, Henry S. 1956. How to know the mosses and liverworts. Dubuque, IA: Wm.C. Brown Company Publishers. 226 p. [9927]
10. Corns, I. G. W.; Annas, R. M. 1986. Field guide to forest ecosystems of west-central Alberta. Edmonton, AB: Canadian Forestry Service, Northern Forestry Centre. 251 p. [8998]
11. Evans, Kevin E.; Kershaw, G. Peter. 1989. Prod. of agronomic & native plants under various fertil & seed applicat rates on a simulated transport corridor, Ft. Norman, Northwest Terr.. In: Walker, D. G.; Powter, C. B.; Pole, M. W., compilers. Reclamation, a global perspective: Proceedings of the conference; 1989 August 27-31; Calgary, AB. Edmonton, AB: Alberta Land Conservation and Reclamation Council: 279-287. [14352]
12. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905]
13. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998]
14. Grout, A. J. 1932. Moss flora of North America, north of Mexico. Vol. 3. Part 3. New York: The author. 277 p. [18657]
15. Hanley, Thomas A.; Robbins, Charles T.; Spalinger, Donald E. 1989. Forest habitats and the nutritional ecology of Sitka black-tailed deer: a research synthesis with implications for forest management. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-230. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 52 p. [7509]
16. Ireland, R. R. 1982. Moss flora of the Maritime Provinces. Publications in Botany No. 13. [Ottawa, ON]: National Museum of Natural Sciences. 738 p. [18662]
17. Johnson, E. A. 1981. Vegetation organization and dynamics of lichen woodland communities in the Northwest Territories, Canada. Ecology. 62(1): 200-215. [19244]
18. Klinka, K.; Krajina, V. J.; Ceska, A.; Scagel, A. M. 1989. Indicator plants of coastal British Columbia. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press. 288 p. [10703]
19. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384]
20. Lesquereux, Leo; James, Thomas P. 1884. Manual of the mosses of North America. Boston, MA: S.E. Cassino & Co. 447 p. [18656]
21. Lewis, M. 1981. Human uses of bryophytes. I. Use of mosses for chinking log structures in Alaska. Bryologist. 84(4): 571-572. [18659]
22. Miller, Donald R. 1976. Taiga winter range relationships and diet. Canadian Wildlife Service Rep. Series No. 36. Ottawa, ON: Environment Canada, Wildlife Service. 42 p. (Biology of the Kaminuriak population of barren-ground caribou; pt 3) [13007]
23. Norum, Rodney A. 1982. Predicting wildfire behavior in black spruce forests in Alaska. Res. Note PNW-401. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Fire, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 10 p. [10463]
24. Norum, Rodney A. 1983. Wind adjustment factors for predicting fire behavior in three fuel types in Alaska. Res. Pap. PNW-309. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 5 p. [14618]
25. Richardson, D. H. 1981. The biology of mosses. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications. 220 p. [18658]
26. Stanek, Walter. 1980. Vegetation types and environmental factors associated with Foothills Gas Pipeline route, Yukon Territory. BC-X-205. Victoria, BC: Environment Canada, Canadian Forestry Service, Pacific Forest Research Centre. 48 p. [16527]
27. Tamm, C. O. 1964. Growth of Hylocomium splendens in relation to tree canopy. Bryologist. 67: 423-426. [18660]
28. Viereck, Leslie A. 1970. Forest succession and soil development adjacent to the Chena River in interior Alaska. Arctic and Alpine Research. 2(1): 1-26. [12466]
29. Viereck, Leslie A. 1989. Flood-plain succession and vegetation classification in interior Alaska. In: Ferguson, Dennis E.; Morgan, Penelope; Johnson, Frederic D., compilers. Proceedings--land classifications based on vegetation: applications for resource management; 1987 November 17-19; Moscow, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-257. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 197-203. [6959]
30. Viereck, L. A.; Dyrness, C. T. 1979. Ecological effects of the Wickersham Dome Fire near Fairbanks, Alaska. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-90. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 71 p. [6392]
31. Viereck, L. A.; Dyrness, C. T.; Batten, A. R.; Wenzlick, K. J. 1992. The Alaska vegetation classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-286. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 278 p. [2431]
32. Viereck, Leslie A.; Schandelmeier, Linda A. 1980. Effects of fire in Alaska and adjacent Canada--a literature review. BLM-Alaska Tech. Rep. 6. Anchorage, AK: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Mangement, Alaska State Office. 124 p. [7075]
33. Foote, M. Joan. 1983. Classification, description, and dynamics of plant communities after fire in the taiga of interior Alaska. Res. Pap. PNW-307. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 108 p. [7080]
34. Longton, R. E.; Greene, S. W. 1969. The growth and reproductive cycle of Pleurozium scriberi (Brid.) Mitt. Annals of Botany. 33: 83-105. [28340]
35. Damman, A. W. H. 1964. Some forest types of central Newfoundland and their relation to environmental factors. Forest Science Monograph 8. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 62 p. [14281]
36. Meades, W. J.; Roberts, B. A. 1992. A review of forest site classification activities in Newfoundland and Labrador. Forestry Chronicle. 68(1): 25-33. [19262]