Species Profile

Rusty Cord-moss

Scientific Name: Entosthodon rubiginosus
Taxonomy Group: Mosses
Range: British Columbia, Saskatchewan
Last COSEWIC Assessment: April 2017
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered

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Quick Links: | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Rusty Cord-moss


Rusty Cord Moss is a small, light- to medium-green moss measuring 2 to 3 mm in height. This species grows as individual stems or in small clumps. Leaves are broad and grow close together at the top of an erect stem. In a natural setting, it is hard to spot this inconspicuous plant since it is often hidden among other moss species. Sporophytes are common in British Columbia. These stems are tipped with organs that produce spores that form new individuals when they germinate. Spores are contained in erect, pear-shaped capsules that are brownish red to brownish yellow when mature, which explains the reference to “rusty” in this species’ common name.


Distribution and Population

Rusty Cord Moss is native to western North America. It occurs sporadically in southern British Columbia, Montana, Arizona and New Mexico. In Canada, the species has been located in four sites in south-central British Columbia: the White Lake area in the southern Okanagan Valley and the areas southeast of Princeton, northeast of Kamloops and south of Riske Creek in the Cariboo forest region. Rusty Cord Moss is uncommon in all its known sites. It occurs only in a limited number of clumps measuring less than one square centimetre (each of these clumps is considered an individual). The current Canadian population is estimated to contain a total of 24 individuals. It is impossible at this time to define trends for this population.



In Canada, this species lives on a narrow strip of shoreline dominated by grasses and other mosses in seasonally wet alkaline habitats. The habitat is alkaline due to the minerals left in the soil following the evaporation of water during the warmest months. Rusty Cord Moss grows in the silt- or clay-rich soils found along the edges of ponds, lakes and mud flats, or on seepage slopes in environments that are otherwise relatively dry. While damp, alkaline environments number in the hundreds in British Columbia, there seem to be only a few that are suitable for Rusty Cord Moss.



Sporophytes are common in Canadian Rusty Cord Moss populations. In British Columbia, these spore-producing stems typically remain visible until fall, even though the moss leaves tend to dry out and become inconspicuous. This species matures in late winter and spring. Spores probably play a key role in short-range dispersal, particularly towards open areas. It is generally believed that Rusty Cord Moss is a short-lived species, although it may be perennial; or it may, at the very least, survive for a few years in a natural environment. In fact, there are many small buds on this plant’s underground stems that seem to survive from one year to the next.



The main threat to Rusty Cord Moss is, in all likelihood, the trampling of its habitat by animals. Two populations have been trampled by horses and cattle and all of the sites that have been inspected show signs of various degrees of damage caused by domestic animals. Extended periods of drought could also threaten Rusty Cord Moss. The past few years have been particularly dry in the British Columbia interior and this may have led to a population decline.



Federal Protection

More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

This species is not protected under any provincial law in British Columbia.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.


Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Rusty Cord-moss (Entosthodon rubiginosus) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry


Recovery Team

BC Bryophyte Recovery Team

  • Brenda Costanzo - Chair/Contact - Government of BC
    Phone: 250-387-9611  Fax: 250-356-9145  Send Email



PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

8 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the rusty cord-moss Entosthodon rubiginosus in Canada (2005)

    Entosthodon rubiginosus belongs to the moss family Funariaceae, characterized by small species with a great degree of vegetative similarity. There are twelve species of Entosthodon in North America, of which only 2 are found in Canada. Entosthodon rubiginosus is a small, pale green to green moss that grows as individual stems or in tiny patches. In habitat, it is inconspicuous and often hidden among other mosses. Sporophytes are common.

COSEWIC Assessments

Response Statements

  • Response Statements - Rusty Cord-moss (2005)

    This species is endemic to western North America where it occurs in southern British Columbia, and has been reported from Montana, Arizona, and New Mexico. This moss has a highly restricted distribution in south-central British Columbia where only four populations have been found. Of these, three populations are extant, and one was not relocated; the species is not abundant at any known site. The species' habitat is a narrow band of shoreline dominated by grasses and other mosses in seasonally wet, alkaline habitats. Two populations have been affected by trampling by horses or cattle, and all sites examined have been impacted to varying degrees by domestic animals. At least a portion of one population has been lost as result of trampling by domestic animals.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Rusty Cord-moss (Entosthodon rubiginosus) in Canada (2012)

    The Rusty Cord-moss was listed on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) as Endangered in August 2006. In the spirit of cooperation of the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, the Government of British Columbia has given permission to the Government of Canada to adopt the “Recovery strategy for the Rusty Cord-moss (Entosthodon rubiginosus) in British Columbia” under Section 44 of the Species at Risk Act. As the competent minister under SARA, the federal Minister of the Environment has included an addition (Part 1) which completes the SARA requirements for this recovery strategy, and excludes the section on Socio-Economic Considerations. Socio-economic factors are not part of the consideration process for federal recovery strategies developed under SARA. These factors are kept isolated from this strategic phase of recovery planning. The British Columbia Ministry of Environment led the development of the attached recovery strategy for the species (Part 2) in cooperation with Environment Canada.


COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005 (2005)

    2005 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species Under the Species At Risk Act: November 2005 (2005)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list.