Common Name: Candle snuffer moss, stubby extinguisher moss Scientific Name

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Common Name: Candle snuffer moss, stubby extinguisher moss

Scientific Name: Encalypta brevipes

Division: Bryophyta

Class: Bryopsida

Order: Pottiales

Family: Encalyptaceae

Technical Description: Plants erect, to 13 mm tall, light green at tip of shoots but dark green to blackish below. Leaves 2-4 mm long, usually with awns to 2.5 mm, contorted and incurved when dry, keeled, with a prominent, shiny green or brown costa. Leaf tips rounded, the blades broadly oblong or obovate, the cells with straight walls and simple papillae. Seta 1-3 mm long. Calyptra 1-3 m long, fringed or lacerate at bottom, resembling an old-fashioned candle-snuffer, hence the name "extinguisher moss." Capsules smooth, 1-3 mm long, narrowly cylindric, reddish yellow with a red rim. Peristome absent. Distinctive characters: The shape of the calyptra is unique to the genus. If the calyptra is missing, look for (1) cylindrical capsules with a red rim, no peristome, and barely exserted above the leaves, (2) broad, awned leaves, (3) cells with straight walls and simple papillae, and (4) rocky habitat. Similar species: Encalypta alpina has lanceolate leaves with acute apices. E. spathulata has longitudinally ribbed capsules. E. mutica has no awns on the leaves, and plants are less than 8 mm tall. E. vulgaris has the base of the calyptra entire. Some species of Tortula occur in rocky crevices but their leaves are brownish, their leaf papillae are C-shaped or antler-shaped, and their peristome teeth are wound up tightly in a distinctive cone. Other descriptions and illustrations: Horton and Murray 1976: 323; Horton 1983: 484; Christy and Wagner 1996: VII-30; Magill 2007: 178.

Life History: Details for Encalypta brevipes are not documented. Protonema inconspicuous, forming buds and shoots in usual fashion of moss growth and development.

Range, Distribution, and Abundance: Interruptedly circumboreal. In the Pacific Northwest known from Alberta, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.
National Forests: documented from the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF; suspected by most National Forests in Region 6. BLM Districts: none documented; suspected on the Coos Bay, Eugene, and Salem Districts. Documented from Saddle Mountain State Park, Clatsop Co., Oregon.
Reportedly rare throughout its range and apparently restricted to unglaciated regions (Horton 1983; Hedderson and Brassard 1992).

Habitat Associations: Soil on ledges and in crevices on cliffs, reported from both igneous and siliceous substrates (Horton 1983; Hedderson and Brassard 1992). Sites may be subject to frequent fog penetration. Associated species in Oregon include Cheilanthes gracillima, Selaginella wallacei, Sedum, Grimmia ramondii, Claopodium bolanderi, Bucklandiella heterosticha, Racomitrium lanuginosum, Niphotrichum elongatum, Polytrichum piliferum, Amphidium, and Gymnomitrion. Plant associations in the Pacific Northwest include Abies amabilis, Abies lasiocarpa, and Tsuga mertensiana.

Threats: Road and trail construction and maintenance, quarrying, air pollution and overcollecting are the primary threats to Encalypta brevipes. Quarrying and road and trail construction could destroy rocky habitat for this species. Sites on fog-drenched ridges could be at risk from air pollution because condensation of harmful aerosols may occur at these locations.

Conservation Considerations: Revisit known localities and monitor the status of the populations. Search for new populations on federal and state lands.
Conservation rankings: Global: G3; National: NNR; Oregon: S1, List 2; British Columbia: S2S3, Blue List. Not known from Washington.

Preparer: John A. Christy

Date Completed: June 2007

Edited by: Rob Huff, July 2007
Revised by Candace Fallon, February 2011

(Revision only adds Attachment 1, Photos)

Revised by Rob Huff, August 2011

(Revision clarified that the species is not suspected to occur on all of the NF in Region 6).


  1. Photos

Christy, J.A. & D.H. Wagner. 1996. Guide for the identification of rare, threatened or sensitive bryophytes in the range of the northern spotted owl, western Washington, western Oregon and northwestern California. USDI Bureau of Land Management, Oregon-Washington State Office, Portland. 222 pp.
Hedderson, T.A. & G.R. Brassard. 1992. Encalypta affinis subsp. macounii and E. brevipes new to eastern North America from the Torngat, Northern Labrador, Canada. Bryologist 95: 31-32.
Horton, D.G. 1983. A revision of the Encalyptaceae (Musci), with particular reference to the North American taxa. Part II. J. Hattori Bot. Lab. 54: 353-532.
_______ & B.M. Murray. 1976. Encalypta brevipes and E. mutica, gymnostomous species new to North America. Bryologist 79: 321-331.
Magill, R.E. 2007. Encalyptaceae. Pp. 170-179 in: Flora of North America Editorial Committee. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Volume 27. Oxford University Press, New York. 713 pp.
Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center. 2007. Rare, threatened and endangered species of Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Oregon State University. Portland. 100 pp.

Attachment 1 – Photos
All photos by J. Harpel, under contract with the Oregon/Washington Bureau of Land Management.

Aral and basal cells

Upper medial cells

Calyptra fringe Calyptra

Mouth of urn

Leaf Leaf apex


Sporophyte Sporophyte wet

Spores Whole mount

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