Encalypta procera    Bruch

Tall Extinguisher Moss 

MN Status:
special concern
Federal Status:


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Minnesota range map
Map Interpretation
North American range map
Map Interpretation


Encalypta streptocarpa

  Basis for Listing

Encalypta procera (tall extinguisher moss) has a nearly continuous world distribution of boreal affinity. It has been recorded regionally from Ontario, Manitoba, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In Minnesota, two populations have been documented from Cook County and one from Lake County (North Shore Highlands Subsection). The species has also been recorded historically from Winona, Wabasha, and Goodhue counties in the southeastern part of the state (The Blufflands Subsection). Because only a few populations have been documented in Minnesota, there is too little information available to detect a statewide population trend at this time (Janssens 2005). Further inventory work is needed to clarify the species’ distribution in the state and to adequately assess threats to its survival. Due to its apparent rarity and disjunct populations within the state, Encalypta procera was designated a special concern species in 2013.


Upright plants of E. procera are small to medium sized, 4.0-8.0 cm (1.6-3.1 in.) high, brownish-green above and brown below, typically forming sparse patches or growing singly (McKnight et al. 2013). Stems are irregularly branched, often with abundant rhizoidal gemmae on the lower stem appearing as filamentous brown thread-like tomentum that serve as asexual propagules (Magill 2007). Leaves are somewhat crowded, 2.0-4.0 mm (0.08-0.16 in.) long, forming what appears to be a rosette. When moist, leaves spread 45-75 degrees from stem, becoming twisted or contorted when dry and folding along the midrib of the leaf. Leaf shape is oblong-ovate with an apex that is broadly acute to rounded. The uppermost leaves have a transparent awn. Costa (midrib) ends well below the apex, often disappearing at the base of the awn. Margins of leaves are more or less entire to crenulate or may have minute forward-pointing teeth. Setae are 11-16 mm (0.43-0.63 in.) long, red-brown, and often twisted above. Capsules are 2.5-3.0 mm (0.1 in) long, pale brown, and spirally ribbed and twisted (at least when mature).


Encalypta procera grows as a colonist on calcareous rock outcrops or soil in moist crevices on talus and cliff ledges such as northern mesic cliff, northern open talus, northern wet cliff, and historically, southern wet cliff or southern mesic cliff.

  Biology / Life History

Sexual condition is autoicous or dioicous. Sporophytes are rare in eastern North American populations, though common in the West. Eastern plants become rather large because of continued vegetative growth and are easily identified by the copious filamentous brood bodies covering the stem in sterile plants, though sometimes only on the lower stem of fertile plants (Crum and Anderson 1981). Plants of E. procera look similar to E. ciliata (fringed candle snuffer moss). However, E. ciliata is larger (5-20 mm [0.20-0.79 in.] tall) and does not have the filamentous rhizoidal gemmae along the stem. Instead it produces capsules more regularly, with setae (stalks) that are 4-14 mm (0.16-0.55 in.) long. Encalypta ciliata leaves are all mostly mucronate, ending in a tiny yellow needle (McKnight et al. 2013).

  Conservation / Management

Trampling has been identified as a potential threat to one of the known populations of E. procera. Hiking, climbing, or even biking across exposed rock with shallow soil could damage populations. Given its local microhabitat preferences for shaded and moist cliff ledges and crevices, climate change may eventually stress survival of these populations in the state. Historic populations in the southeast Driftless Area (Paleozoic Plateau) have not been relocated.

  Best Time to Search

The best time to search for Encalypta procera is from May through September or essentially anytime the ground is not covered by snow.


Erika R. Rowe (MNDNR), 2018

(Note: all content ©MNDNR)

  References and Additional Information

Crum, H. A., and L. E. Anderson. 1981. Mosses of eastern North America. In two volumes. Columbia University Press, New York, Yew York. 1330 pp.

Horton, D. G. 1983. A revision of the Encalyptaceae (Musci) with particular reference to the North American taxa. Part II. Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory 54:353-532.

Janssens, J. A. 2003. Bryophytes of the Northern Superior Uplands and the Superior National Forest: inventory, assessment, and recommendations for conservation. Report submitted to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Superior National Forest. 382. pp.

Janssens, J. A. 2005. Proposed candidates of endangered, threatened, and special concern species of bryophytes for Minnesota: update June 2005. Report to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, County Biological Survey, St. Paul. 18 pp.

Janssens, J. A. 2009. MS Access database on Minnesota bryophytes. Lambda-Max Ecological Research, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Magill, R. E. 2007. Encalyptaceae. Pages 170-179 in Flora of North America Editorial Committee, editors. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Volume 27. Oxford University Press, New York, New York.

McKnight, K. B., J. R. Rohrer, K. McKnight-Ward, and W. J. Perdrizet. 2013. Common mosses of the Northeast and Appalachians. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. 392 pp.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2003. Field guide to the native plant communities of Minnesota: the Laurentian mixed forest province. Ecological Land Classification Program, Minnesota County Biological Survey, and Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, Minnesota. 352 pp.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2005. Field guide to the native plant communities of Minnesota: the eastern broadleaf forest province. Ecological Land Classification Program, Minnesota County Biological Survey, and Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, Minnesota. 394 pp.

NatureServe. 2009. NatureServe Explorer: an online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. <http.//www.natureserve.org/explorer>. Accessed 10 June 2009.

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