Kiaeria starkei (Web. & Mohr) I. Hag.
Starke's fork-moss (Starke's kiaeria moss)

Species Account Author: Wilf Schofield
Extracted from Some Common Mosses of BC

Introduction to the Bryophytes of BC


© Rosemary Taylor     (Photo ID #48189)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Kiaeria starkei
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Species Information

Species description:
Genus named in honour of the 19th-century Norwegian bryologist, F.C. Kiaer. Species named in honour of the original collector, V. C. Starke.
Sporophytes frequent, grooved when ripe, maturing in early summer or late spring when the snow melts to expose the populations.
Distinguishing characteristics:
Considering only vegetative characteristics, this is a troublesome moss. However, the sporangia are usually present and, when mature, are grooved, which separates it from most mosses that resemble K. starkei vegetatively. The species frequently occurs on perpendicular rock surfaces and has usually falcate-secund leaves that are curled at tips when dry.
Forming short turfs of densely to loosely attached light green to yellow-green plants in which leaves become strongly curled at the tips when dry.
Similar Species:
K. falcata usually forms tight turfs on more-or-less horizontal rock surfaces in late-summer snow-melt areas; K. starkei is usually on perpendicular surfaces, forms loose turfs and release from snow is early in the season. K. falcata also has sporangia without grooves when mature. K. blyttii is difficult to distinguish on vegetative features but is frequently terrestrial, is usually weakly falcate-secund and sporangia lack grooves when mature. From Dicranoweisia crispula, K. starkei differs in the non-falcate leaves of the Dicranoweisia that oc­curs mainly in rock crevices; in Dicranoweisia sporangia are straight and erect rather than curved and inclined. Oncophorus wahlenbergii is superficially similar, but the sporangia have a conspicuous knob at the neck, lacking in Kiaeria, and Oncophorus occurs on humus or wood, not on rock. Dicranella heteromalla is also a terrestrial species; the sporangia, although grooved, have the grooves obliquely arranged while in K. starkei the grooves are mainly longitudinal; in Dicranella the leaves are dark green and almost hair-like, while those in Kiaeria are yellowish-­green and are not hair-like.


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.

Illustration SourceSome Common Mosses of BC

Habitat and Range

Usually on siliceous rock surfaces, sometimes on soil, at sub­alpine to alpine elevations.
World Distribution

Circumpolar in the Northern Hemisphere, mainly in the mountains; in the Western Hemisphere from Greenland to Nova Scotia in the east and from Alaska to California and inland to western Alberta and Montana in the west.


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Arctoa starkei (F. Weber & D. Mohr) Loeske
Dicranoweisia subcompacta Cardot & Th?r.