World of Mosses website

Discovering The Mosses

by Robert Muma
Page 8 of 16


Petticoat or Umbrella Moss (Splachnum rubrum): Any contest for the most beautiful moss in the world would rank this dung moss among its top contenders. My watercolour sketch was done from a dried herbarium specimen, but coming upon it live in a northern, moose-frequented bog would be a highlight for anyone. Finding this delicate beauty clustered where only dung flies are likely to find it make it one of the ironies, as well as one of the rarities, of the moss world. The "umbrellas" are 5-10 mm across and are borne on golden pedicels 6 cm from the ground. Dicranum polysetum, a Fork Moss: Its generic name comes from an imagined similarity of the split peristome teeth to a fork. It is also easy to recognize by sight. Look for these features: more than one sporophyte per plant (its name polysetum means "many stalks"); gametophyte stems felted with a white wooly coat called tomentum; and leaves with an undulating surface so the moss "glistens."

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