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Ceratodon purpureus

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Tesky, Julie L. 1992. Ceratodon purpureus. In: Fire Effects 
Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, 
Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). 

10 September 2013: The Fire Case Study of Zasada and others' [9,35,36] 
study was converted to a Research Project Summary.


   Ceratodon dimorphus 
   Mielichhoferia recurvifolia 


   fire moss
   purple horn-toothed moss

The currently accepted scientific name for fire moss is Ceratodon
purpureus (Hedw.) Brid. [16].  According to Zander [33], 3 subspecies
and 36 varieties have been described worldwide, but names were not
mentioned in this source.


No special status



SPECIES: Ceratodon purpureus
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Fire moss is widespread throughout Canada, where it is known from every province and territory.  In the United States it occurs in every state. It likely occurs in every country throughout the world but is possibly replaced by closely related taxa in tropical latitudes [16]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES10  White - red - jack pine    FRES11  Spruce - fir    FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine    FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine    FRES14  Oak - pine    FRES15  Oak - hickory    FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress    FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood    FRES18  Maple - beech - birch    FRES19  Aspen - birch    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES21  Ponderosa pine    FRES22  Western white pine    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce    FRES25  Larch    FRES26  Lodgepole pine    FRES27  Redwood    FRES28  Western hardwoods    FRES29  Sagebrush    FRES30  Desert shrub    FRES31  Shinnery    FRES32  Texas savanna    FRES33  Southwestern shrubsteppe    FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub    FRES35  Pinyon - juniper    FRES36  Mountain grasslands    FRES37  Mountain meadows    FRES38  Plains grasslands    FRES39  Prairie    FRES40  Desert grasslands    FRES41  Wet grasslands    FRES42  Annual grasslands    FRES44  Alpine STATES :      AL  AK  AZ  AR  CA  CO  CT  DE  FL  GA      HI  ID  IL  IN  IA  KS  KY  LA  ME  MD      MA  MI  MN  MS  MO  MT  NE  NV  NH  NJ      NM  NY  NC  ND  OH  OK  OR  PA  RI  SC      SD  TN  TX  UT  VT  VA  WA  WI  WY  AB      BC  MB  NB  NF  NT  NS  ON  PE  PQ  SK      YT  MEXICO 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     7  Lower Basin and Range     8  Northern Rocky Mountains     9  Middle Rocky Mountains    10  Wyoming Basin    11  Southern Rocky Mountains    12  Colorado Plateau    13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont    14  Great Plains    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    K006  Redwood forest    K007  Red fir forest    K008  Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest    K009  Pine - cypress forest    K010  Ponderosa shrub forest    K011  Western ponderosa forest    K012  Douglas-fir forest    K013  Cedar - hemlock - pine forest    K014  Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest    K015  Western spruce - fir forest    K016  Eastern ponderosa forest    K017  Black Hills pine forest    K018  Pine - Douglas-fir forest    K019  Arizona pine forest    K020  Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest    K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest    K022  Great Basin pine forest    K023  Juniper - pinyon woodland    K024  Juniper steppe woodland    K025  Alder - ash forest    K026  Oregon oakwoods    K027  Mesquite bosque    K028  Mosaic of K002 and K026    K029  California mixed evergreen forest    K030  California oakwoods    K031  Oak - juniper woodlands    K032  Transition between K031 and K037    K033  Chaparral    K034  Montane chaparral    K036  Mosaic of K030 and K035    K037  Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub    K038  Great Basin sagebrush    K039  Blackbrush    K040  Saltbush - greasewood    K041  Creosotebush    K042  Creosotebush - bursage    K043  Paloverde - cactus shrub    K044  Creosotebush - tarbush    K045  Ceniza shrub    K046  Desert: vegetation largely lacking    K047  Fescue - oatgrass    K048  California steppe    K049  Tule marshes    K050  Fescue - wheatgrass    K051  Wheatgrass - bluegrass    K052  Alpine meadows and barren    K053  Grama - galleta steppe    K054  Grama - tobosa prairie    K055  Sagebrush steppe    K056  Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe    K057  Galleta - three-awn shrubsteppe    K058  Grama - tobosa shrubsteppe    K059  Trans-Pecos shrub savanna    K060  Mesquite savanna    K061  Mesquite - acacia savanna    K062  Mesquite - live oak savanna    K063  Foothills prairie    K064  Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass    K065  Grama - buffalograss    K066  Wheatgrass - needlegrass    K067  Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass    K068  Wheatgrass - grama - buffalograss    K069  Bluestem - grama prairie    K070  Sandsage - bluestem prairie    K071  Shinnery    K072  Sea oats prairie    K073  Northern cordgrass prairie    K074  Bluestem prairie    K075  Nebraska Sandhills prairie    K076  Blackland prairie    K077  Bluestem - sacahuista prairie    K078  Southern cordgrass prairie    K079  Palmetto prairie    K080  Marl - everglades    K081  Oak savanna    K082  Mosaic of K074 and K100    K083  Cedar glades    K084  Cross Timbers    K085  Mesquite - buffalograss    K086  Juniper - oak savanna    K087  Mesquite - oak savanna    K088  Fayette prairie    K089  Black Belt    K090  Live oak - sea oats    K091  Cypress savanna    K092  Everglades    K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest    K094  Conifer bog    K095  Great Lakes pine forest    K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest    K097  Southeastern spruce - fir forest    K098  Northern floodplain forest    K099  Maple - basswood forest    K100  Oak - hickory forest    K101  Elm - ash forest    K102  Beech - maple forest    K103  Mixed mesophytic forest    K104  Appalachian oak forest    K105  Mangrove    K106  Northern hardwoods    K107  Northern hardwoods - fir forest    K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest    K109  Transition between K104 and K106    K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest    K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest    K112  Southern mixed forest    K113  Southern floodplain forest    K114  Pocosin    K115  Sand pine scrub    K116  Subtropical pine forest SAF COVER TYPES :      1  Jack pine      5  Balsam fir     12  Black spruce     13  Black spruce - tamarack     14  Northern pin oak     15  Red pine     16  Aspen     18  Paper birch     19  Gray birch - red maple     20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple     21  Eastern white pine     22  White pine - hemlock     23  Eastern hemlock     24  Hemlock - yellow birch     25  Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch     26  Sugar maple - basswood     27  Sugar maple     28  Black cherry - maple     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     39  Black ash - American elm - red maple     40  Post oak - blackjack oak     42  Bur oak     43  Bear oak     44  Chestnut oak     45  Pitch pine     46  Eastern redcedar     50  Black locust     51  White pine - chestnut oak     52  White oak - black oak - northern red oak     53  White oak     55  Northern red oak     57  Yellow-poplar     58  Yellow-poplar - eastern hemlock     59  Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak     60  Beech - sugar maple     61  River birch - sycamore     62  Silver maple - American elm     63  Cottonwood     64  Sassafras - persimmon     65  Pin oak - sweetgum     67  Mohrs ("shin") oak     68  Mesquite     69  Sand pine     70  Longleaf pine     71  Longleaf pine - scrub oak     72  Southern scrub oak     73  Southern redcedar     75  Shortleaf pine     76  Shortleaf pine - oak     78  Virginia pine - oak     79  Virginia pine     80  Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine     81  Loblolly pine     83  Longleaf pine - slash pine     84  Slash pine     85  Slash pine - hardwood     88  Willow oak - water oak - diamondleaf oak     89  Live oak     91  Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak     92  Sweetgum - willow oak     93  Sugarberry - American elm - green ash     94  Sycamore - sweetgum - American elm     95  Black willow     96  Overcup oak - water hickory     98  Pond pine    101  Baldcypress    107  White spruce    108  Red maple    109  Hawthorn    110  Black oak    201  White spruce    202  White spruce - paper birch    203  Balsam poplar    204  Black spruce    205  Mountain hemlock    206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir    207  Red fir    208  Whitebark pine    209  Bristlecone pine    210  Interior Douglas-fir    211  White fir    212  Western larch    213  Grand fir    215  Western white pine    216  Blue spruce    217  Aspen    218  Lodgepole pine    219  Limber pine    220  Rocky Mountain juniper    221  Red alder    222  Black cottonwood - willow    223  Sitka spruce    224  Western hemlock    225  Western hemlock - Sitka spruce    226  Coastal true fir - hemlock    227  Western redcedar - western hemlock    228  Western redcedar SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Ceratodon purpureus
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : NO-ENTRY PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : The rapid colonization of fire moss after disturbance can help prevent soil erosion [29].  In revegetation trials on disturbed riverbank sites in Quebec, Canada, fire moss was codominant with Canada bluegrass (Poa compressa) [21]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Fire moss is able to tolerate much higher pollution levels than other mosses [26].  It is common in urban and industrial environments subjected to a variety of pollutants, along highways, and on the tailings and refuse associated with both coal and heavy-metal mining activities.  Fire moss is common in the vicinity of a zinc smelter in Palmerton, Pennsylvania.  However, populations growing on mine tailings or in other habitats contaminated by heavy metals often lack sporophytes in spite of vigorous gametophytic growth [30]. Fire moss contains photoprotective pigments, which are a useful adaptation for the bright Antarctic environment.  Leaf pigment varies from green to ginger [24]. The abundance of fire moss after disturbance promotes a large accumulation of organic matter, which favors the development of invertebrate fauna [4]. Fire moss is eaten by some grasshopper species in the genus Tetrix [26].


SPECIES: Ceratodon purpureus
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Fire moss is a native, short moss that forms dense tufts or sometimes cushions [3,28].  The stems are erect, usually about 0.5 inch (1.3 cm) long.  The upper 0.19 inch (0.5 cm) is current year's growth [28]; often slightly branched by forking at the tip of the old growth [8].  The stems sometimes become 2.4 to 3.1 inches (7-8 cm) long in shaded places [14].  Leaves are short and hairlike, spreading when moist; somewhat folded or twisted when dry [8,28]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : NO-ENTRY REGENERATION PROCESSES : Fire moss is dioecious [30].  The capsules are held horizontally on the end of a long seta (fruit stalk) [28].  Fire moss generally fruits abundantly [8].  Wind is the main method of spore dispersal [23]. Spore germination in fire moss is a two-phase process.  Spores first swell then distend [22].  Usually the setae are present in great numbers in the colony; with changes in humidity they twist and untwist.  This movement helps to jerk the capsules, helping in spore discharge. Possibly the contraction of the grooves in the capsule at maturity also helps to squeeze out the spores [28].  Spores of fire moss have remained viable even after drying for 16 years [26]. Vegetative reproduction:  Fire moss reproduces vegetatively via protonemata (threadlike or platelike growths) [2]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Fire moss is often found on disturbed sites.  It occurs on a wide range of substrates including soil, rock, wood, humus, old roofs, sand, and cracks of sidewalks [8,16,28].  It is most abundant on exposed, compact, mineral, dry, gravelly or sandy soils but tolerates a wide range of soil textures [28].  Sand dunes close to water in Scotland are colonized by fire moss, which grows between the shoots of grasses [26].  Fire moss is typically found associated with other species characteristic of disturbed sites such as fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) and pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) [6]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Obligate Initial Community Species Fire moss prefers low competition and high light; however, it is somewhat shade tolerant [15,18].  It is a colonizer of disturbed sites and readily invades mineral soil by spores [23].  Fire moss is often replaced by flowering plants in later stages of succession [26].  In the black spruce (Picea mariana)-lichen woodlands of Alaska and Canada, the first stage of revegetation, which lasts from 1 to 20 years, is dominated by pioneer mosses such as fire moss.  Fire moss continues to increase in the early part of the shrub stage but begins to decrease toward the end of this stage [32]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Fire moss sporophytes appear early in the spring, as soon as the snow melts [3].  In March, the setae reach their full height and begin to turn from green to red.  Capsules mature by late spring [8].  By midsummer the capsules often decay, and the setae break from the moss [14].


SPECIES: Ceratodon purpureus
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Fire moss's light wind-carried spores readily colonize burned areas [23]. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Ceratodon purpureus
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire moss is typically killed by fire [7]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Fire moss will colonize burned areas through lightweight, off-site, wind-dispersed spores [2,7].  High-severity fire, which exposes mineral soil, provides ideal conditions for the germination of fire moss spores. Fire moss is often the dominant vegetation for several years following high-severity fire [26].  It produces few spores late in the first postfire year and many in the second [7].  If fire takes place in early spring; gametophores can develop in 4 to 5 months.  If the fire takes place in the fall, colonization is slower [26]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : Following a 1976 high-severity summer fire on heathlands of Brittany, France, fire moss was the most prevalent species in the majority of sites until fall of 1979 when heavy rain and frost caused high mortality [4].  Fire moss populations culminated about 15 years after a high-severity fire in northern Sweden.  After 24 years, populations had declined considerably [31].  At one site in Michigan, fire moss was first observed in 1930, 4 years after a high-severity fire.  By 1940, this moss covered 50 percent of the ground, and by 1950 it had colonized 95 percent.  Other mosses and Cladonia lichens appeared in 1942 and by 1971 had almost replaced fire moss [26].  On a severely burned heathland in Brittany, France, a moss layer dominated by fire moss developed to a maximum in the first year then decreased rapidly and disappeared by the third year.  Forty-three percent of the original fire moss patches were replaced by patches of the moss Polytrichum piliferum [12]. For information on prescribed fire and postfire responses of many plant species, including fire moss, see Hamilton's Research Papers (Hamilton 2006a, Hamilton 2006b) and these Research Project Summaries: FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Ceratodon purpureus

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