World of Mosses website

Discovering The Mosses

by Robert Muma
Page 7 of 16


Splachnum ampullaceum: This species is one of the dung mosses, a group of colourful mosses that grow on the droppings or bones of animals. The Splachnum species, however, follow only the ungulates such as moose and caribou, and S. ampullaceum can usually be found on the dung of herbivorous mammals around peat bogs. Note how the young gametophyte is full and firm. But with maturity comes a deterioration into senility with collapsing stalks and shriveling lower capsule. The upper capsule is left with ripening spores to continue its cycle. Ontario Rose Moss (Rhodobryum ontariense): This should be our official provincial moss. It was recognized as a new species in 1889 and named for its abundance in Ontario. It grows on rotting wood or on rich humus on rock outcroppings, but never north of the 50th parallel. Sporophytes are rare, but when present each producing plant may host up to five lovely offspring. With autumn maturity the purple of the lower stalk extends in a rose blush to the capsule tip. Thus, with its rose-like leaves, it gets its name: Rhodo - rose, bryum - moss, ontariense - Ontario.

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