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Tuatara: Volume 2, Issue 3, September 1949

Some Notes on Mosses with Key to Commoner New Zealand Genera

page 131

Some Notes on Mosses with Key to Commoner New Zealand Genera

Mosses together with the liverworts form a very natural and usually distinct group, the Bryophytes. The mosses, especially, can usually be placed as such in the field and are easily collected, requiring only drying and packeting, as they moisten out well for later examination. Their main drawback is their small size, some being only a millimetre or two high, even when in fruit, so that a microscope is required for their examination, as also for the minute structure of leaves and peristomes of the larger species, some of which reach the unusual size for mosses of 1 ½ feet or more.

Mosses are widely spread in New Zealand, ranging from mountain rocks to coastal sands. We have our share, too, of very interesting species, and a high endemism, given as nearly 40 per cent, by Martin, but, of course, there is the usual cosmopolitan element.

Some of our mosses were included in Dr. W. J. Hooker's “Musci Exotici,” published in 1818-1820, and in 1847-1859 Sir J. D. Hooker published further figures and descriptions in his Flora Antarctica, Flora Novae-Zelandiae and Flora Tasmaniae. In 1867 he credited us with 350 species in the “Handbook”. These had been worked up by Hooker himself, by Dr. Taylor and Wm. Mitten. Mosses have a wide appeal and while Hooker and Colenso had collected many of the above mosses, many others had sent in collections, including Cunningham, Lyall, Sinclair, Menzies, Knight and Hector and Buchanan.

Various collections were made after this, notably by T.W.N. Beckett; by Robert Brown of Christchurch; and by S. Berggren of Sweden. Beckett and Brown published many papers in the Transactions of the N.Z. Institute from 1882, to 1908. These and other papers were collected by Brotherus in the moss section of Engler and Prantl's “Pflanzenfamilien” published in 1924.

H. N. Dixon, however, laid the foundation for an up to date Manual of our mosses with his “Studies in the Bryology of New Zealand” which was published in six parts, 1913-1929, by the N.Z. Institute as Bulletin No. 3. In this Dixon collected and critically examined all records of our mosses and brought the nomenclature up to date. He credited us with under 500 mosses, grouped into about 170 genera. This work revived interest in the mosses and a small keen band of collectors has since carried out extensive field work which it is hoped will make the compilation of a manual possible.

At present no such recent work exists but students will find the following works useful:

page 132

Dixon's work mentioned above, which has six plates and mentions all the mosses then known to grow in New Zealand, but, while discussing critical species in detail, it often gives no description of the well known species. Dixon's “Student's Handbook of British Mosses,” 1924, is an excellent book so far as it deals with our genera. W. Martin published a check list of our mosses with much other information in Volume 76 (1946) of the Transactions of the Royal Society and also a good popular account of our mosses with several plates in his “Flora of New Zealand” (3rd edition).

Mosses are divided into three sub-classes, based on the structure and development of the capsule: (i) Sphagnales (ii) Andreaeales and (iii) Bryales, the first two containing only one genus each. The Bryales are divided up into two clans, based on peristome characteristics: the Nematodonteae have solid teeth, not tranversely barred, derived from several concentric layers of the cells of the Sporogonium and include seven families: the Arthrodonteae have the teeth (sometimes absent) thin and membranous, derived from a single layer of cells of the sporogonium, and are transversely barred and articulate and include the rest of the mosses—some 67 families. These latter are again divided up into 3 Sub-clans on peristome characteristics, so that it can be seen what an important part the capsule plays in the classification of mosses and it should be collected whenever possible. The Sub-clans are divided into orders, families and genera on characters taken from the gametophyte as well as from the sporophyte.

The main divisions of mosses can be told as follows:

Sphagnales: White or whitish green mosses with fascicled or whorled branches, growing in bogs or wet ground. Leaves of very narrow long cells which anastomose to form a network of large wide thin-walled cells which are often strengthened with evident spiral thickenings: operculum falling: no peristome (Figs. 17, 18) Sphagnum.

Andreaeales: Small reddish to dark purple or black mosses usually growing on alpine rocks, very occasionally larger and growing in mountain streams. Leaves inserted all round the stem, cells dot like. Capsule black, erect, dehiscing by 4 lateral slits, the operculum never being shed. Andreaea.

Bryales: The operculum is usually shed, though in exceptional cases this is not so and then the capsule wall rots or breaks irregularily (not by regular slits) to release the spores. Includes all the other mosses.

Miss Adams' contribution in supplying the drawings is gratefully acknowledged.

The Key below gives characteristics for 123 of the Commonest Genera of New Zealand Mosses out of the total of about 170.

page 133

Key to the Genera of Mosses

1. Gametophyte a very small bulb of leaves on a persistent protonema 2
Gametophyte normal and leafy, growing from a protonema which soon disappears. 3
2. Protonema extensive, brownish, on bark or twigs: like an alga (Fig. 31). Archephemeropsis
Protonema sparse, on earth or rock Buxbaumia
3. Leaves distichous. 4
Leaves inserted in 3 or more rows on the stem 9
4. Leaf base split and vaginant: on earth (Fig. 8, 32) Fissidens
Leaf otherwise 5
5. Leaf vaginant owing to the folding together of the two halves of the leaf. 6
Leaf flat or merely concave. 7
6. On earth: light green colour. Catagonium
On bark: leaves with a metallic sheen. Orthorrhynchium
7. Leaves oblong, longly piliferous and crenulate: seta lateral. On tree-fern trunks (Fig. 12). Hymenodon
Leaves lanceolate to setaceous 8
8. Leaves setaceous from a lanceolate base sheathing the stem: margins entire and not thickened. On earth. Distichium
Leaves about lanceolate, base not sheathing: margins dentate or thickened. Often on wood. (Fig. 13). Rhizogonium p.p.
9. Leaves inserted in 3 rows on the stem. 10
Leaves inserted in more than 3 rows on the stem. 15
10. Leaf rows 2 lateral and 1 dorsal or ventral which are usually smaller and of different shape from the lateral. 11
Leaves all similar in 3 spiral rows. On earth. Triquetrella
11. One ventral and 2 lateral rows of leaves: plant usually unbranched: seta so short that capsule is hidden under the frond. (Figs. 33, 46.) Cyathophorum
One dorsal and 2 lateral rows of leaves: seta longer than the leaves. 12
12. Seta terminal: leaves neither dentate nor ciliate. On tree-fern trunks. Calomnion
Seta lateral 13
13. Leaves strikingly ciliate. Often on tree-ferns (Fig. 11) Catharomnion
Leaves not ciliate. 14
14. Stems creeping on earth or logs: leaves piliferous by the excurrent nerve. Rhacopilum
Stems erect, tree or umbrella-like, on earth, logs or tree trunks: leaf nerve not excurrent (Fig. 34). Hypopterygium
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15. Seta terminal on the branch or stem, sometimes apparently lateral owing to innovations. Plant often short and little branched or branches whorled or fascicled, or numerous short erect branches rise from a horizontal primary stem (Acrocarpous mosses). 16
Seta lateral, hence plants often long and straggly, with pinnate or irregular branching (Pleurocarpus mosses). 92
16. Leaves nerved. 20
Leaves nerveless. 17
17. Leaves acute, but not piliferous 19
Leaves with long piliferous points. 18
18. Leaf points hyaline: capsule immersed. On earth or rock. (Fig. 36). Hedwigia
Leaf points coloured, not hyaline: capsule exserted. On earth or rock. Rhacocarpus
19. Leaves thick, white, spongy: capsule longly exserted. On earth or rotten wood. Leucobryum
Leaves green and normal: capsule emergent. Usually arboreal Dicnemon p.p.
20. Capsule cleistocarpous: minute plants on earth, usually fruiting freely. 21
Capsule stegocarpous, the operculum falling normally. 22
21. Plant stemless: capsule almost sessile, enclosed in a small ball of leaves. On earth. Acaulon
Plant with a short stem: capsule distinctly stalked. On earth. Pleuridium
22. Capsule neck 1-1 ½ times as long as the capsule: peristome single. 23
Capsule neck shorter or peristome double 24
23. Leaves broad, about obovate. On earth. Tayloria
Leaves very narrow, subulate to lanceolate. On earth. (Fig. 26.) Trematodon
24. Erect tree-like plants, 6in. to 18in. tall. 25
Plants shorter: not rigid and tree like. 26
25. Unbranched or almost so. On earth. Dawsonia
Lower stem simple, with a much branched top. Dendroligotrichum
26. Plant with silky setaceous leaves and glossy pyriform capsules of papery texture. On earth. (Figs. 3, 29, 37) Leptobryum
Plants otherwise. 27
27. Peristome 0 (absent), or a short entire ring. 28
Peristome present, composed of distinct teeth. 37
28. Peristome wanting. 29
Peristome a short entire ring: plants forming cushions on wood with long hair points to the leaves. Leptostomum
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29. Leaves, when dry, very regularly placed with incurved tips, so that the spiral leaf insertion is well shown. Usually arboreal. (Fig. 38.) Macromitrium p.p.
Leaves crumpled or more normally disposed when dry: tips not strikingly incurved. 30
30. Capsule with a red rim, not closed by a membrane: leaves lanceolate. On earth. (Fig. 23.) Weisia.p.p
Capsule rim not red or if somewhat so, leaves minute or linear. 3
31. Capsule mouth, on the fall of the operculum, closed by a membrane. On earth. Hymenostomum
Capsule mouth not so closed. 32
32. Calyptra very large, mitriform, quite enclosing the cylindrical capsule. Often on rock. Encalyptra
Calyptra smaller or cucullate. 33
33. Forming dense cushions or matted masses: leaves linear-lanceolate or linear, minute. 34
Plants may be crowded but do not form matted masses: leaves broader. 35
34. Capsule exserted. smooth. On earth. Gymnostomum
Capsule not reaching about the leaves, ribbed. On earth or in rock crevices. Amphidium
35. Calyptra mitriform, small, covering the operculum only: capsule sub-globose: leaves dentate. On earth (Fig. 39.) Physcomitrium
Calyptra cucullate, larger: capsule clavate to oval or elliptic. 36
36. Operculum shortly conical: leaves entire: capsule clavate, with neck. On earth. Funaria p.p.
Operculum rostrate, leaves entire or dentate, capsule oval or elliptic, neck wanting. On earth. Pottia
37. Peristome single 38
Peristome double 78
38. Peristome teeth solid, of several layers of cells, with a circular membrane stretched between their tips: leaves usually lamellate (Polytrichaceae). 39
Peristome teeth thin, formed from one cell layer, without a membrane across their tips: leaves not lamellate. 44
39. Calyptra naked or sparsely setose. 40
Calyptra densely hairy. 43
40. Leaf lamellae few or very indistinct. 41
Leaf lamellae numerous. 42
41. Leaves unbordered, subentire. Oligotrichum
Leaves bordered with spinose teeth. Atrichum
42. Capsule terete. On earth. Psilopilum
Capsule 2-angled, the lower side rounded, the upper concave.
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Often On Clay Banks. (Fig. 25.) Polytrichadelphus
43. Capsule Terete: Apophysis Nil: Stomata Wanting. Often On Clay Banks. Pogonatum
Capsule Angled: Apophysis And Stomata Present. On Earth. (Figs. 1, 9, 19.) Polytrichum
44. Calyptra Mitriform. 45
Calyptra Cucullate 48
45. Calyptra Plicate: Capsule Erect. On Trees, Less Often On Rock. (Fig. 38.) Macromitrium P.P.
Calyptra Not Plicate 46
46. Lower Leaf Margin With A Stout White Border. Arboreal. (Fig. 10). Calyptopogon
Leaf Margin Not Bordered. 47
47. Calyptra Fringed At The Base: Seta Straight. On Earth Or Rock. Rhacomitrium
Calyptra May Be Shortly Split At The Base, But Is Not Fringed: Seta Straight Or Curved. On Rock. Grimmia
48. Perichaetial Leaves Sheathing The Seta, Only Their Tips Free. 49
Perichaetial Leaves Free For Most Of Their Length. 55
49. Perichaetial Leaves Sheathing All Or Nearly All The Seta. 50
Perichaetial Leaves Sheathing Only A Part Of The Seta. 51
50. Leaves Entire: Nerve Not Reaching The Apex. Usually Arboreal. Dicnemon P.P.
Leaves Denticulate; Long Linear Subula Composed Mostly Of Nerve. On Earth Or Wood. (Figs. 16, 42.) Dicranoloma P.P.
51. Capsule Erect: If Slightly Curved, Then Peristome Teeth Long And Twisted. 53
Capsule Inclined Or Curved Or Unequal At The Base: Peristome Teeth Short. 52
52. Leaves Highly Papillose On The Back. On Earth (Fig. 2.) Dicnemoloma
Leaves Not Papillose On The Back. On Earth Or Wood. (Figs. 16, 42.) Dicranoloma P.P.
53. Leaf Margins Serrulate At The Apex. On Earth Or Wood. Dicranum P.P.
Leaf Margins Entire. 54
54. Peristome Teeth Long And Twisted, Many Times Longer Than The Diameter Of The Capsule Mouth. On Earth. Tortella P.P.
Peristome Teeth Very Short, Not Much Longer Than The Diameter Of The Capsule Mouth. Holomitrium
55. Capsule Cernuous, Inclined, Curved Or Unequal At The Base. 56
Capsule Erect, Symmetrical. 63
56. Calyptra Fringed At The Base. (Fig. 45.) Campylopus
Calpytra Not Fringed At The Base 57
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57. Seta curved and flexuous. On earth. Campylopodium
Seta erect: capsule inclined. 58
58. Capsule globose when wet, shrunken when dry. On earth. (Fig. 24.) Conostomum
Capsule more or less oblong, little altered when dry 59
59. Capsule ribbed. On earth. (Fig. 21.) Ceratodon
Capsule smooth. 60
60. Capsules from short basal shoots and so appear lateral. On earth. Mielichhoferia
Capsule terminal on the stem. 61
61. Leaves little altered when dry. 62
Leaves with their tips incurved and regularly appressed to the stem. Usually arboreal. Macromitrium p.p.
62. Capsule oval, dull brown. On earth. Dicranella p.p.
Capsule tapering to a small mouth, bright orange brown. On earth. Ditrichum p.p.
63. Capsule smooth 64
Capsule furrowed. On wood or rock. Zygodon p.p.
64. Leaves obtuse or broadest in upper part of the leaf. 65
Leaves acute, broadest in the lower part of the leaf. 67
65. Capsules cylindrical: basal tube of peristome long. On earth, rock or wood. (Fig. 20.) Tortula p.p.
Capsules not cylindrical: peristome without basal tube. 66
66. A distinct border of larger wider cells reaching some way up the leaf margin. More or less aquatic. Tridontium
Leaf not so bordered. On earth. Eucladium
67. Capsules turbinate, mouth very wide. On wet rock or earth. Blindia
Capsules cylindrical to oval or pyriform. 68
68. Robust plant, up to 8 cm. high: leaves squarrose—recurved, serrulate above: basal cells not hyaline: very seldom fruits. Leptodontium
Plants otherwise: leaves not squarrose. 69
69. Peristome teeth filiform, long, spirally twisted, often united at the base into a longer or shorter tube. 70
Peristome teeth filiform to broader, shorter and not spirally twisted or tubular at the base. 72
70. Leaves linear to narrow lanceolate, twisted and crisped when dry, entire, nerve not longly excurrent. 71
Leaves lanceolate to wider, imbricated to crumpled when dry, entire or dentate, nerve often longly excurrent. On earth, rock or wood. (Fig. 5.) Tortula p.p.
71. Leaf margin plane or incurved. On earth. Tortella p.p.
Leaf margin usually recurved. On earth or rock. Barbula
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72. Operculum nearly flat: capsule pyriform: leaf cells large, lax, clear. On earth. Funaria p.p.
Operculum beaked or rostrate: leaf cells much smaller and denser. 73
73. Peristome mouth red. On earth. (Fig. 23) Weisia p.p.
Peristome mouth not red. 74
74. Alar cells not or scarcely differentiated. 75
Alar cells distinct. 77
75. Capsule oval, often minute. On earth. Dicranella p.p.
Capsule narrowly ovate to linear. 76
76. Upper leaf cells obscure with dense papillae. On earth. Cheilothela
Upper leaf cells not papillose. On earth. Ditrichum p.p.
77. Leaves not crisped when dry. Dicranum p.p.
Leaves crisped when dry. Dicranoweisia
78. Calyptra mitriform 79
Calyptra cucullate 81
79. Calyptra smooth. Arboreal Schlotheimia
Calyptra plicate, often pilose. 80
80. Stomata confined to the base of the capsule. Arboreal. Ulota
Stomata scattered over the wall of the capsule. Arboreal. (Fig. 30) Orthotrichum
81. Capsule ribbed or furrowed when dry. 82
Capsule smooth when dry. 87
82. Leaves entire or nearly so. 83
Leaves dentate (Bartramiaceae) 85
83. Outer peristome shorter than the inner. On earth. Orthodontium
Outer peristome longer than the inner. 84
84. Outer teeth 16, equidistant, incurved when dry. On earth. Leptotheca
Outer teeth 16, united in pairs, reflexed when dry. Usually on wood. Zygodon p.p.
85. Leaves more or less plicate. On earth. Breutelia
Leaves not plicate 86
86. Branches irregular or fasciculate, not whorled: male flower gemmiform. On earth. Bartramia
Stem divided, with whorled sub-floral innovations: male flowers often discoid. On earth. Philonotis
87. Capsule inclined to pendulous 89
Capsule erect. 88
88. Arboreal: capsules usually several together. Cryptopodium
Terrestrial: capsules borne singly. Funaria p.p.
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89. Shoots from the base of the stem, often creeping; operculum with a long beak: leaves large, flaccid. On earth or logs. Mnium
Shoots from the sides or top of the stem, which is erect; operculum not, or very shortly beaked. 90
90. Leaf cells rhomboid to rhomboid-hexagonal: capsule widest at or below the middle. On earth. (Fig. 22.) Bryum
Leaf cells narrow linear-rhomboid to linear 91
91. Leaf cells linear: leaves setaceous: capsule pryiform. On earth. (Figs. 3, 37). Leptobryum
Leaf cells narrow linear-rhomboid: capsule oval to cylindrical. On earth. Webera
92. Peristome single 93
Peristome double 98
93. Nerve of leaf 0, or 2, very short. 94
Nerve of leaf reaching at least to mid leaf. 96
94. Leaves oblong, obtuse. Arboreal. Dichelodontium
Leaves acute. 95
95. More or less tufted, with rather short erect branches: leaves piliferous. Usually arboreal. Lepyrodon
Stems much pinnately branched: leaves rather falcately recurved, not piliferous. Arboreal. Entodon
96. Leaves obtuse, entire. Arboreal. Leptodon
Leaves acuminate, serrulate 97
97. Minute creeping moss, ¼ inch high: nerve reaching half way up the leaf. On wood or rock. Fabronia
Tufted, robust moss, 1-2 ½ inches high: nerve reaching leaf apex. On earth and wood. Mesotus
98. Calyptra cucullate. 99
Calyptra mitriform. 131
99. Leaves distichously spreading, the upper and lower ones being appressed and spreading laterally. 100
Leaves spreading in all directions or all curved and pointing one way (secund) 103
100. Seta quite or nearly sheathed by the perichaetial leaves: leaves oblique. Arboreal. Neckera
Seta much longer than the perichaetial leaves. 101
101. Leaves ovate, not oblique: capsule erect. On wood. Trachyloma
Leaves unequal at the base or oblong: seta curved at the top. 102.
102. Leaves flat. On earth Homalia
Leaves strongly undulate. On earth. Porotrichum
103. Leaf nerve 0 or 2, short and usually faint. 104
Leaf with single nerve. 115
page 140
104. Capsule erect. 105
Capsule inclined to pendulous. 107
105. Leaves plicate with obtuse apiculus strongly reflexed. On earth or trees. (Fig. 14.) Cladomnion
Leaves not plicate and apex not recurved. 106
106. Leaves highly concave, obtuse. Usually arboreal (Fig. 41.) Weymouthia
Leaves ovate, acuminate. Usually arboreal. Glyphothecium
107. Capsule strongly grooved: seta purple: operculum longer than the capsule. On earth or wood. (Fig. 28.) Ptychomnion
Capsule smooth: operculum much shorter. 108
108. Leaves straight, may be dished but not curved. 112
Leaves more or less falcate. 109
109. Leaves toothed all round the margin. On logs. (Fig. 15.) Ctenidium
Leaves entire or dentate only towards the apex. 110
110. Alar cells none. On wood or earth. Camptochaete p.p.
Alar cells present. 111
111. Alar cells quite small: operculum conical. On wood or earth. (Figs. 6, 27. 44.) Hypnum
Alar cells large and inflated: operculum with a long beak. On wood or earth. Sematophyllum
112. Alar cells none. On wood or earth. Camptochaete p.p.
Alar cells present. 113
113. Leaves suborbicular, chochleariform, giving a swollen appearance to the stems: stem apex obtuse. On earth or logs. Lembophyllum
Leaves orbicular to narrower: stem apex very acute. 114
114. Leaves orbicular to cordate-ovate, obtuse. On earth or logs. (Fig. 7.) Acrocladium
Leaves oblong-ovate to narrower, ending in a longer or shorter filiform hair point. On earth or logs. Acanthocladium
115. Plant very small, corticolous: usually sterile: terminal bunches of gemmae conspicuous: capsule erect, grooved. Arboreal. (Fig. 43.) Tetraphidopsis
Plant without terminal bunches of gemmae. 116
116. Stems densely clothed with a greenish fibrillose or rudimentary leaf like covering, much shorter than the leaves: usually shortly, densely branched and frond like. On earth or logs. (Fig. 40.) Thuidium
Stems not so clothed. 117
117. Long, straggly, branches, usually arboreal pendulous mosses, very seldom fruiting: leaves when dry more or less rigidly
page 141
appressed: leaf cells small. Usually arboreal. Papillaria Habit different or leaves spreading when dry. 118
118. Capsule erect. 119
Capsule inclined to pendulous. 120
119. Plants with long little branched stems: leaves ovate-subulate with setaceous rigid apices. Arboreal. Cyrtopus
Plants forming elongate more or less bipinnate fronds: leaves ovate, obtuse. Arboreal. Braithwaitea
120. Capsule ribbed or furrowed. 121
Capsule smooth. 122
121. Stipes without marked tomentum: leaves more or less complanate, plane above. On earth or logs. Hypnodendron
Stipes tomentose: leaves crowded, not complanate, usually striate when dry, concave or channelled above. On earth or logs. Mniodendron
122. Plants umbrella-like, consisting of a naked erect unbranched stem, more or less horizontally branched above. On earth or logs. Sciadocladus
Unbranched to simply pinnate: branches long. 123
123. Operculum short, conical. 124
Operculum long, beaked. 127
124. Seta roughened (smooth in B. salebrosum). On earth. Brachythecium
Seta quite smooth. 125
125. Leaves more or less falcate-secund. In bogs. Drepanocladus
Leaves straight. 126
126. Upper leaf cells elongate, or if short, leaves squarrosely spreading. Often in swamps. Campylium
Upper leaf cells short, 3-4 × 1. Often in swamps. Amblystegium
127. Seta rough. On earth or wood. Eurhynchium
Seta smooth. 128
128. Leaves lanceolate-subulate: margin thickened and more or less doubly spinose. On earth. Rhizogonium p.p.
Leaf margin not thickened. 129
129. Leaves narrow, ovate below, much narrowed above to setaceous: nerve percurrent or excurrent. On earth or log. Echinodium
Leaves broader, ovate to oblong-acuminate: nerve shorter. 130
130. Habit rigid and dendroid, pinnately branched: usually sterile and in spray of waterfalls or in watery places. Thamnium
Habit softer, not rigid nor dendroid: usually fruiting: arboreal or on bush floor. Rhyncostegium
131. Capsule not exserted. On earth or wood. Cryphaea
Capsule exserted (Hookeriaceae). 132
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132. Leaves narrow, acute or acuminate. 133
Leaves more or less spathulate or rounded, wide above. 135
133. Nerve 0. On wood. Sauloma
Nerve single, long. 134
134. Nerve ceasing below the apex. On wood. Daltonia
Nerve reaching the apex or excurrent. On wood. Bellia
135. Nerve 0 or double. On earth or wood. Eriopus
Nerve single, or forked at the apex. 136
136. Nerve undivided, leaves narrowly bordered (not bordered, but nerve not forked in D. microcarpum). On earth. Distichophyllum
Nerve often forked at apex, leaves unbordered. On earth. (Figs 4, 35.) Pterigophyllum


  • Acuminate: tapering to a gradually diminishing point: more drawn out than “acute”.
  • archegonium: the female sexual organ which after fertilization develops into the sporophyte.
  • alar cells: a usually conspicuous group of cells at the outside base of a leaf differing greatly in size or wall thickness from the surrounding cells, (Fig. 7).
  • apiculus: a short abrupt point to a leaf usually but not always acute (Fig. 14).
  • apophysis: the swelling sometimes present at the union of the capsule and seta.
  • calyptra: the upper part of the ruptured archegonium, which is carried up by the capsule as it develops and forms a covering for it, (Fig. 45).
  • campanulate: more or less bell shaped with entire base.
  • cernuous: nodding.
  • ciliate: having the margin fringed with hairs, (Fig. 11).
  • clavate: club shaped, broadest about the middle.
  • cleistocarpous: of a capsule from which the operculum does not separate.
  • cochleariform: spoon shaped, i.e., strongly concave with obtuse apex.
  • complanate: flat or plane: of leaves or stems.
  • conic: cone shaped, circular in cross section: height only once or twice the diameter of the base.
  • cordate: heart shaped.
  • corticolous: living on bark.
  • crenulate: margin provided with small rounded notches.
  • cuculiate: of a calyptra split up on one side, (Fig/. 45).
  • dehiscence: the manner in which a capsule opens to scatter its spores.
  • discoid: of a male flower, disc like with a broad flat top.
  • distichous: arranged in two vertical rows, (Fig. 32).
  • dorsal: the upper face or surface: cf. ventral.
  • emergent: a capsule wholly included in the perichaetial leaves is termed “immersed” (Fig. 36): if the capsule is partly above them, it is “emergent”: the perichaetial leaves do not reach the base of the capsule, it is “exserted”.
  • excurrent: of a nerve, extending beyond the leaf apex as an extension or awn, (Fig. 5).
  • exserted: see “emergent”.
  • falcate: sickle shaped: curved like a scythe blade.
  • fascicled: arranged in a small bundle or close cluster.
  • fibrillose: furnished with fine fibres or threads.
  • gametophyte: in mosses, the leafy plant, which bears the leaves and sexual organs; page 143 an archegonium develops into the capsule and seta, the sporophyte, which is parasitic on the gametophyte.
  • gemmae: outgrowths on stems or leaves of few or many cells which are shed to reproduce the plant vegetatively, (Figs 10, 43).
  • gemmiform: of a male flower; shaped like a small bud, ovoid with a narrow top.
  • hyaline: translucent: colourless, (Fig. 18).
  • immersed: see emergent, (see fig. 36).
  • lamellate: furnished with lamellae or thin plates of tissue at right angles to the face bearing them, (Figs. 1, 9).
  • lanceolate: shaped like a lance-head: broadest near the base, tapering upwards from a narrow ovate base.
  • linear: narrow and elongated with parallel margins.
  • mitriform: of a calyptra, campanulate, not split up one side as in a cucullate calyptra, (Fig. 46).
  • obovate: inversely ovate, with the broadest part near the apex.
  • operculum: the lide of the capsule, which usually is shed so that the spores can be scattered, (Figs. 22, 25, 27, 28).
  • ovate: shaped like the longitudinal section of an egg with the broadest part near the base.
  • papilla: a small superficial elevation.
  • papillose: provided with papillae, (Fig. 2).
  • percurrent: of a nerve, hardly reaching the apex of a leaf.
  • perichaetial: of leaves (Fig. 42), those at the base of the seta (Fig. 32), which often differ from the others.
  • peristome: the teeth which form a single or double row of appendages to the capsule mouth, seen on the fall of the operculum: sometimes absent, when the capsule if “gymnostomous”.
  • piliferous: bearing long hair-like points, (Figs. 5, 12).
  • pilose: furnished with rather long and soft distinct hairs.
  • pinnate: “feather-like” with more or less regular lateral branching, (Figs. 40, 41).
  • plicate: furnished with “plicae” or folds like those of a fan, (Fig. 14).
  • p.p. (pro parte) in part: indicates that another section of the genus appears in another part of the key.
  • protonema: the branched thread like growth arising from the germinated spore which gives rise to the moss plant, (Fig. 31, b).
  • pyriform: pear-shaped.
  • rostrate: beaked with a long slender point.
  • secund: turned or pointing to one side only.
  • serrate: furnished with saw like teeth.
  • serrulate: minutely serrate.
  • sessile: without a stalk.
  • seta: (a) a bristle, (b) the capsule stalk, (Fig. 32).
  • setaceous: bristle like.
  • setose: sparsely provided with bristles.
  • spathulate: rounded or shortly oblong with the lower end narrow and drawn out: like a druggist's spatula, (Fig. 4).
  • sporophyte: see gaemtophyte.
  • squarrose: with points spreading widely, giving a rough appearance to the plant.
  • stegocarpous: of a capsule, with the operculum falling normally.
  • stipes: the lower simple erect stem of a branched moss.
  • subula: the longer narrowed part of narrow leaf: the broader basal part is the “lamina”.
  • subulate: awl shaped.
  • terete: round, not angled or grooved.
  • tomentum: a densely matted woolly covering.
  • turbinate: top shaped.
  • vaginant: sheathing, as the base of an iris leaf, (Fig. 8).
  • ventral: the undersurface or face: cf. “dorsal”.
page 144

Images of sections of various New Zealand Mosses

page 145

Key to Plates


Transverse section of leaf of Polytrichum commune showing lamellae on the upper surface.


Leaf of Dicnemoloma showing papillose lower surface.


Leaf of Leptobryum pyriforme.


Leaf of Pterigophyllum dentatum with forked nerve and denticulate margin.


Leaf of Tortula princeps showing the nerve excurrent in a long dentate, flexuose, piliferous point.


Leaf of Hypnum cupressiforme, strongly curved and nerveless.


Leaf of Acrocladium auriculatum with short nerve and conspicuous alar areas.


Leaf of Fissidens leptocladus showing the nerve reaching the apex, vaginant leaf base (stippled) and thickened margins.


Leaf of Polytrichum commune showing dentate margins and upper surface opaque owing to the numerous longitudinal lamellae.


Leaf of Calyptopogon mniodes showing the apical mass of gemmae on the upper surface.


Leaf of Catharomnion ciliatum showing the remarkable ciliation.


Leaf of Hymenodon piliferus showing piliferous apex and nerve not reaching the apex.


Leaf of Rhizogonium mnioides with thickened, dentate margins.


Leaf of Cladomnion ericoides, nerveless, plicate and with recurved apiculus.


Leaf of Ctenidium pubescens showing the margins dentate almost to the base.


Leaf of Dicranoloma dicarpum with strongly spinulose upper margins.


Branch leaf of Sphagnum cuspidatum.


Sphagnum: part of a branch leaf surface, strongly magnified to show the long chlorophyllose cells enclosing the larger hyaline ones which are strengthened with “spirals” or cell wall thickenings.


Capsule of Polytrichum juniperinum and front view of its mouth showing the (ruptured) circular membrane held in place by the 64 short teeth.


Capsule of Tortula princeps, erect, with twisted peristome rising from the entire basal part.


Capsule of Ceratodon purpureus, inclined and ribbed.


Capsule of Bryum truncorum, pendulous with conical operculum.


Capsule of Weisia viridula, erect, with short peristome teeth.


Capsule of Conostomum pusillum, striate and horizontal.


Capsule of Polytrichadelphus magellanicus with operculum.


Capsule of Trematodon suberectus, inclined with long neck.


Capsule of Hypnum cupressiforme, inclined and with conicomamillate operculum.


Capsule of Ptychomnion aciculare, inclined and striate with the strikinly long operculum.


Capsule of Leptobryum pyriforme.


Capsule of Orthotrichum hortense, erect and ribbed with short, recurved outer peristome. The inner peristome consists of 8 filiform processes which remain more or less horizontal across the mouth, but may be soon lost.

page 146

Images of sections of various New Zealand Mosses

page 147

Key To Plates


(a) Archephemeropsis trentepohlioides, part of tuft with young capsules and male flowers. (b) Enlarged piece showing male flowers.


Fissidens leptocladus showing terminal seta.


Cyathophorum bulbosum, ventral side, showing the three rows of leaves and capsules.


Hypopterygium setigerum showing umbrella-like growth habit.


Pterigophyllum dentatum showing leaves inserted in several rows but spreading laterally to form a flattened “frond”.


Hedwigia albicans with immersed capsules.


Leptobryum pyriforme.


Macromitrium longipes.


Physcomitrium conicum with gymnostomous capsule.


Thuidium furfurosum with bi-pinnate branching.


Weymouthia mollis showing irregular or sub-pinnate branching.


Dicranoloma fasciatum showing the perichaetial leaves sheathing the whole seta.


Tetraphidopsis pusillus showing terminal heads of gemmae.


Hypnum cupressiforme with the densely placed curved leaves giving the stems a turgid appearance.


Fringed cucullate calyptra of Campylopus torquatus.


Entire mitriform calyptra of Cyathophorum bulbosum.

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