The Moss Families of the British Isles


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Gametophyte. Pleurocarpous; forming patches (these dark green). Primary stems procumbent (stoloniform, the secondary stems erect, procumbent or sometimes pendulous, homomallous). Paraphyllia absent. Pseudoparaphyllia present. The leaves ovate; spiral; longitudinally plicate, or not plicate; single-nerved. The leaf nerves extending beyond the middle of the leaf, but not to the tip. Leaf blade apices pointed; apically acute to acuminate. Leaf blade margins proximally narrowly revolute or recurved, or flat; entire. The basal leaf cells more or less isodiametric to somewhat longitudinally elongated; rounded; papillose to smooth. The walls of basal leaf cells thick; straight. The angular cells clearly differentiated (sometimes somewhat enlarged), or not well differentiated. The mid-leaf cells more or less isodiametric to somewhat longitudinally elongated (1 to 1.5 times as long as wide); rounded; papillose to smooth. The walls of the mid-leaf cells thick; straight.

Plants monoecious; autoecious.

Sporophyte. Capsules immersed (sessile or sub-sessile, on one side of the stem); symmetrical; straight; sub-cylindric to ellipsoid; with an annulus. Calyptra symmetrical; with two or more splits. Capsules with a peristome (this nearly white). The peristome double (in British representatives). The peristome teeth 16; not grouped; not deeply cleft; not perforated; thin, membranous, and transversely barred (finely papillose); exteriorly with a fine longitudinal dividing line between the transverse bars. The inner peristome reduced, or rudimentary; about equalling the outer; with a basal membranous ring (this short), or without a basal membranous ring; with elongated “processes” (these filiform). The processes of the inner peristome 16; alternating with the teeth of the outer peristome. The inner peristome ciliate, or without cilia. The operculum more or less conical. Setae usually very short.

Ecology. In wet places. The common C. heteromalla on bark especially near water, or rarely on rocks; Dendrocryphaea lamyana confined to Cornwall and Devon, on rocks and exposed tree roots below the flood level of streams and rivers, very rare.

Cytology. Haploid chromosome number, n = 10 (with one or two supernumeraries).

British representation. 2 species. Dendrocryphaea (Multi-fruited Cryphaea), Cryphaea (Lateral Cryphaea). Southern Scotland, northern England, English Midlands, East Anglia, Wales, southeast England, central southern England, southwest England, Isle of Wight, and Ireland (D. lamyana confined to Cornwall and Devon, very rare; C. heteromalla frequent in England, Wales and Ireland, but scarce in Scotland).

Classification. Class Bryopsida; Subclass Bryideae; Order Hypnales.

Illustrations. • Cryphaea heteromalla: Dixon. Cryphaea heteromalla. • Cryphaea heteromalla, with Fontinalaceae, Hookeriaceae, etc.: Berkeley.

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2005 onwards. The moss families of the British Isles. Version: 21st June 2009.’.