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tasmanian mosses - calomniaceae

Calmnion complanatum


Calomnion complanatum details

This is reported to be a 'very rare' species in Australia. Two other records for Tasmania were collected by I. L. Stone from Dip Falls (1980) and by P. Dalton from near Strahan (1995). This record from Blue Tier is the first for the north east of the state.

The family comprises of a single genus with 9 species, all bar one endemic to areas stretching from Indonesia to New Zealand. Calmnion complanatum is the exception which occurs in New Zealand as well as in south east Australia.

The species is reported to grow usually on tree fern trunks, on both Dicksonia antartica and Cyathea australis, although it has other less common substrates. To the naked eye it resembles the locally pervasive Hymnodon pilifer and it is possible that the species under discussion has avoid detection by this uncanny resemblance to a common species.

Our specimen was found on a manfern trunk with C. complanatum growing at the top and H. pilifer growing below that with a clear zone in between. This is rather unusual as it is more common to find several mosses occupying the same niche. We are unable to determine if this segregation is normal. Some months later we discovered a second specimen growing on a nearby manfern.

Plants are small, around 10 mm long growing horizontally from the substrate; lateral leaves are complanate (on a plane, not radially arranged) with an additional set of dorsal leaves. The costa (vein) fails just below the tip. Cells are around 10 mm across, and the leaf margin is finely crenulate as seen in the detailed inserts.

Literature description of the species has the dorsal leaf being almost orbicular. Our specimen has leaves that match description as well as some that are nearly similar to those of lateral leaves (oblong-lanceolate). We suspect it is likely that the dorsal leaf shape is a variable feature.
Australian Bryological Newsletter #59 carries an item by D. Meagher of a New Norfolk specimen which has dorsal leaves of the same size and shape as the lateral leaves.

Only a single fertile specimen has been collected so far in Australia. Dalton (1998) suggests that in the light of leaves being deciduous, and the ability of mosses in general to regenerate through leaf tissue, this may be the method of reproduction. Given their rarity, the strategy has not been overly successful. This species is listed as endangered in Australia, (see Scott below) and protected in Victoria.
2011/11/12 - Sighted several sporophytes on the local specimen - immature capsule on 2011/11/25.
2012/11/12 - Sighted few sporophytes on the same population.

- Dalton PJ (1998) 'New locality records for some rare mosses in Tasmania'. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 132, 41-45.
- Catcheside, DG & Bell, GH, 'Calomniaceae', Fl. Australia 51: 367-368
- Malcolm, W. & Malcolm, N. The Mosses of Tasmania, (CDRom) p. 222
- Scott, GAM et al, A conservation Overview of Australian Non-marine Lichens, Bryophytes, Algae and Fungi 100, 1997

- Notes on Calomnion complanatum by the NSW Scientific Committee

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