Species At Risk

Spoon-leaved Moss

(Bryoandersonia illecebra)


Spoon-leaved Moss
Spoon-leaved Moss occurrences map


Spoon-leaved Moss is a shiny, green to greenish yellow-brown species of moss with creeping stems and ascending, intertwined branches that form deep mats. It is quite large and striking compared to most moss species. Its most distinctive feature is the smoothly cylindrical appearance of its stems and branches, especially when they are dry. The leaves, which are up to 2.8 millimetres long, are closely overlapping, broad, deeply-concave, and cupped, like the bowl of a spoon.

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Spoon-leaved Moss is found only in eastern North America, from southern Ontario south to Texas and Florida. In Canada, it is restricted to a few sites in southern Ontario – Elgin, Essex and Welland counties, and the Niagara Region.


Spoon-leaved Moss grows in a range of habitat types but most Canadian populations are located on soil in low-lying areas that are seasonally flooded under trees or shrub thickets. It is often found in close proximity to a species of moss called narrow-leaved wetland plume moss, which is associated with swamps, marshes, and wet meadows.


Habitat loss and degradation, usually due to expanding development, is the primary threat to Spoon-leaved Moss in Ontario. Populations are threatened by off-road vehicles, trails establishment, garbage dumping and salt runoff from roads. Invasive plants such as Glossy and European Buckthorn, Autumn Olive and Multiflora Rose, pose a threat at some sites.


Spoon-leaved Moss receives protection under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

What You Can Do to Help Spoon-leaved Moss

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as Spoon-leaved Moss. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species at risk recovery. You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Contact local naturalist groups such as the Ontario Vernal Pool Association ( www.ontariovernalpools.org) to find out how you can help improve habitat for Spoon-leaved Moss.
  • Invasive species seriously threaten many of Ontario’s species at risk. To learn what you can do to help reduce the threat of invasive species, visit: ontario.ca/invasivespecies ; www.invadingspecies.com ; www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca ; and, www.invasivespecies.gc.ca .

Did you know?

A previously unknown population of Spoon-leaved Moss was discovered in Welland County in 2002.

Did you know?

All populations of Spoon-leaved Moss in Ontario, for which the sex has been determined, are female.

Did you know?

Sporophytes – the part of the plant that produces spores – have not been observed in Ontario Spoon-leaved Moss.

Did you know?

The genus of Spoon-leaved Moss is one of only six genera of mosses that are endemic to eastern North America. Spoon-leaved Moss is the only species in its genus.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.