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tasmanian mosses - grimmiaceae

notes on grimmiaceae

There is ongoing revision to the Australian family based upon work by Bednarek-Ochyra & Ochyra and possibly others. This may not be be reflected in current literature on Australian mosses. We have copied the key below from Flora of North America found on the efloras website linked below.

The family consists of two sub-families:

Grimmiaceae subfam. Grimmioideae
Acrocarpous; stems erect to ascending, with or without central strand; basal cells of lamina without spiral thickenings, insertion concolorous with distal cells or hyaline; costa in transverse section with 2 or occasionally with 3-6 adaxial cells near base, usually not markedly larger than abaxial cells; autoicous or dioicous; peristome teeth without basal membrane, entire or divided distally; epidermal cells of vaginula with straight walls

Grimmiaceae subfam. Racomitrioideae
Cladocarpous or rarely acrocarpous; stems often prostrate, without central strand; basal cells of lamina often with spiral thickenings, forming a colored strip along the insertion; costa in transverse section with (2-)3-15 adaxial cells near base, much larger than abaxial cells; dioicous; peristome teeth mostly with basal membrane, cleft into 2-3 filiform branches at least to middle or irregularly divided in distal portion; epidermal cells of vaginula with sinuose-nodulose walls

Grimmioideae: [This being a North American key, genus Guembelia is missing, presumably because it is absent from the region. Key in Ochyra et al listed below may be more appropriate for Tasmania/Australia but it may be some time before the definitive key is published.]

1a. Columella usually attached to operculum and deciduous with it; calyptra small, covering only operculum, mitrate or cucullate, smooth; capsule immersed to emergent; seta straight; leaf margins plane to recurved - Schistidium

1b. Columella not attached to operculum; calyptra small to large, mitrate, cucullate or erose, smooth or plicate; capsule exserted, occasionally immersed; seta straight, sigmoid or arcuate; leaf margins plane, recurved, or incurved - 2

2a. Entire lamina beyond the base spirally inrolled; leaves muticous or with a hyaline apiculus of one or two cells, cucullate; known only from Alaska - Indusiella

2b. Laminal margins beyond the base plane, recurved or incurved but never inrolled; leaves usually awned, rarely muticous, rarely cucullate; widely distributed - 3

3a. Calyptra less than 1/2 length of capsule, cucullate or mitrate, smooth; awns on distal leaves usually shorter than lamina; perichaetial leaves enlarged or not - Grimmia

3b. Calyptra large, covering at least 1/2 of capsule, campanulate-mitrate, plicate; awns on distal leaves typically longer than lamina; perichaetial leaves enlarged - 4

4a. Stem leaves oval to ovate-lanceolate, keeled distally, plicate or not; distal lamina 1- or 2-stratose; plants olivaceous to blackish green; acidophilic - Coscinodon

4b. Stem leaves ovate to obovate, concave or only somewhat keeled distally, not plicate; distal lamina 1-stratose; plants yellow-green to dark olivaceous; calciphilic - Jaffueliobryum


1a. Laminal cells smooth or pseudopapillose; peristone teeth short, divided to the middle, rarely deeper, into 2-3 irregular prongs - Bucklandiella²

1b. Laminal cells papillose; peristome teeth long, split at least to the middle into 2(-3) filiform, more or less regular filaments - 2

2a. Laminal cells with tall, conical papillae situated over the lumina; alar cells hyaline or yellowish-hyaline, thin-walled, forming prominent, decurrent auricles - Niphotrichum

2b. Laminal cells with large, flat papillae situated over the longitudinal walls; alar cells absent or distinct, brown to yellowish-orange, not hyaline, thick-walled - 3

3a. Hyaline hair-point always present, usually long, strongly papillose eroso-dentate, long decurrent down the leaf margins; seta papillose, sinistrorse when dry; costa percurrent, unbranched; capsule slightly ventricose at base; calyptra smooth or minutely roughened - Racomitrium

3b. Hyaline hair-point absent or present, rarely long, smooth to denticulate, never papillose or decurrent; seta smooth, dextrorse when dry; costa ending well before the apex, often branched and spurred distally; capsule never bulging at base; calyptra distinctly verrucose to papillose - Codriophorus

One of the consequences of this revision is that some of the familiar mosses have been reclassified - e.g. the common Racomitrium crispulum could be a composite of Bucklandiella pycnotricha and other species¹. It may be years before this is sorted out.

¹ Thanks to RS for this detail]

- Flora of North America Vol. 27 p. 266 (ISBN-10: 0195318234) republished in efloras
- Ochyra, R, et al, The Illustrated Moss Flora of Antarctica, Cambrige University Press, 2008 (ISBN 978-0-521-81402-7) has an extensive section discussing the family Grimmiaceae pp 219-310
- Klazenga, N, Racomitrium and Schistidium (Australian Mosses Online)
- ² NEW - H. Bednarek-Ochyra, R. Ochyra, J. Sawicki & M. SzczeciƄska, 'Bucklandiella seppeltii, a new species of Grimmiaceae from Australasia, and its phylogenetic position based on molecular data', Turkish Journal of Botany (2014) 38: 1214-1228 includes a key to Australasian Bucklandiella (pdf file 2.4MB)

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