World of Mosses website

Discovering The Mosses

by Robert Muma
Page 6 of 16


Fissidens taxifolius: The Fissidens story is most unusual because each leaf bears an extra "page" attached like an author's addendum. No definite reason for this strange structure is known. It may be for the absorption of moisture and nutrients; or it may be a device for water storage. The family name means "split tooth" and refers to the teeth of the capsule tip. But the "split leaf" identifies this moss just as readily. They grow on bare soil near water, or on shady hillsides and backyards. The rhizoids, reaching unusually deep, bind the surface in clods. Silvery Bryum (Bryum argenteum): This pretty moss is one of our commonest, but most unusual, weed mosses. You can find it growing on disturbed soil, in gardens, along paths, sidewalks, even rooftops. It often prefers sandy soil with which it blends perfectly. The tiny but rugged plants are green to start with, but soon lose their chlorophyll with aging. Then, as the name suggests and a hand-lens will show, the tiny plants appear skillfully crafted in silver. The enormous sporophytes appear in late autumn, floating like tethered balloons over the close-packed silvery turf.

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