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Apple Moss (Bartramia stricta) Global: GU Provincial: S2 COSEWIC: E, BC List: Red
Note on Taxonomy for Bartramia stricta: Apple moss is known under several different botanical names and has been revised from its previous listing “rigid
apple moss” in BC by the CDC. It is also referred to as “upright apple moss” (E-Flora) and “bartramia moss” (USDA Plants Database).
Distribution: Elevations: 20-190 m The stricta species is limited in BC to grassy rock outcrops associated with Garry oak and dry Coastal Douglas-fir zones
on southeastern Vancouver Island The range extends from southwest of Victoria to Lasqueti and possibly Hornby Island. Most sites are low elevation areas
with warm, moist micro-climates. Five specific occurrences are known: Nanoose Hill, Lasqueti Island, Sidney Island, Mary Hill, and Pedder Bay. The Pedder
Bay population may have been extirpated by invasive vascular plants. These populations occur at the northernmost edge of the range of the species. It is likely
that other populations may exist, particularly around the perimeter of urbanized areas where development has been less intense (BC Conservation Data Center).
Description: Height 100-300 mm Male and female reproductive organs can be found on the same leafy structure. This moss occurs in dense clumps that range
from pale to bright green to yellow. The base of the moss has no sheathing and leaves are relatively long, erect and straight. Leaf margins are flat or slightly
curled under. The leaves spread in small clumps and are yellow-green when the plants are wet, but turn brownish-green and press close to the stem when dry
(GOERT 2008). The capsules (spore sacs) are round or apple-shaped in young plants but become furrowed and dried as the plant ages. The mouth of the
capsule is surrounded by a single row of small lance-shaped tooth-like appendages or “peristome” (GOERT 2008).
Look’s Like? There are 3 other species of apple moss in BC (B. halleriana, B. ithyphylla and B. pomiformis). However these other species are either larger,
have sheathing at the base or lack the erect habit of rigid apple moss. Common apple moss (Bartramia pomiformis) is probably one of the easiest to confuse.
However the capsules of B. pomiformis are not as round or symmetrical as those of B. stricta. Also when moist, the leaves of B. pomiformis are less erect.
Anacolia moss (A. menziesii), found in the same habitats as apple moss can be confused with it as well although A. menziesii lacks the distinct vertical furrows
on the dried capsules, has stems that are matted with small hair-like structures (rhizoids), and has smaller and more angled basal leaf cells than apple moss
(GOERT 2008).
Primary Habitat: Usually found on open, steep south-facing slopes which tend to be dry in summer and saturated in winter. Sites preferred have
winter/spring runoff and seepage to maintain a moist microclimate. Soils tend to shallow (80-200 mm) overlaying bedrock with exposed mineral soils.
Associated plant species include grasses and open stands of Garry oak and Pacific madrone (arbutus) as well as invasive species such as Scotch broom and
Himalayan blackberry.
Secondary Habitat: This species will also grow where thin soil deposits accumulate between rocks or directly on rock outcrops as long as sufficient moisture
Critical Features: Apple moss is restricted to two distinct microsites within preferred habitat areas. These are bare rock faces, ledges or crevices in rock
outcrops usually located under overhanging rock or on vertical faces (protecting the plants during severe rains and runoff events). The other is shallow mineral
to humus-rich soils accumulated on open exposed rock material.
Seasonal Life Cycle
Spores produced – likely windborn
Dormant during
summer dry
*Apple moss may form new colonies through small vegetative fragments dispersed over short distances
Habitat Guild: Sea level to low elevation meadows and grass communities, Garry oak and Coastal Douglas fir woodlands and bluffs, rock outcroppings and
 The preferred ecological associations of this species are geographically limited and subject to urban development and associated habitat loss
 Disturbance and trampling from outdoor recreation activities
 Competition for nutrients and shading from associated vascular plants and subsequently expansion of other more shade tolerant moss species as well as
 Fire suppression has led to increased spread and encroachment of competitive plant species (i.e. vascular plants) including several invasive species.
Key Conservation & Management Objectives
 Assess actual level and extent of threats to existing populations.
 A targeted inventory is needed to determine if undiscovered populations exist elsewhere within the Coast Region. Conduct outreach to raise awareness of
this species and how to identify it to improve distribution knowledge
 Monitor existing populations on an ongoing basis to assess viability and reduce potential disturbance from land use activities.
 Where suitable habitat occurs along slopes and south facing Garry oak and Pacific madrone stands work with land managers and land owners to ensure
development or recreational activities do not disturb or encroach on sensitive areas.
 Prevent the introduction and spread of invasive plants, especially aggressive competitors like Scotch broom and Himalayan blackberry, which can be
difficult to control once they are established. When controlling invasive plants, take precautions to minimize disturbance to apple moss populations.
 Meet objectives for this species and the conservation of its habitat as set out in the “Recovery Strategy for Rigid Apple Moss (Bartramia stricta Bridel) in
British Columbia”.
Draft 2010
Disclaimer: This species account and related conservation recommendations are draft only and presently under review and subject to change.
Sightings, specimens, or observations of activities threatening its habitat should be reported to the regional Species at Risk Biologist at the Ministry of
Environment office.
Main References/Literature Cited
British Columbia Bryophyte Recovery Team and Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team. 2007. Recovery strategy for the rigid apple moss (Bartramia stricta
Bridel) in British Columbia. Prepared for the B.C. Ministry of Environment, Victoria, BC. 20pp.
Species at Risk in Garry Oak and Associated Ecosystems in British Columbia - Bartramia stricta. 2008. Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team.
Paul and Bernice Noll's Window on the World – website accessed July 2010
International Forest Products Limited and BC Ministry of Environment. 2003. A Field Guide to Species at Risk in the Coast Forest Region of British Columbia
Develop With Care: Environmental Guidelines for Urban and Rural Land Development in British Columbia.
BC Species & Ecosystems Explorer (BC Conservation Data Center Summary Report)
NatureServe Explorer
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada
E-Flora Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia
USDA, NRCS. 2010. The PLANTS Database
Image credits:
Apple moss: Guernsey Net
Common apple moss: ‘Pisarenko’-Siberia (from mosses of Russia -
Habitat: Coastal Douglas fir and Pacific madrone stand – TLC The Land Conservancy
Draft 2010
Disclaimer: This species account and related conservation recommendations are draft only and presently under review and subject to change.