Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Paraleucobryum & Oncophorus wahlenbergii

Two other members of the Dicranum family could easily be confused for one of our common dicranums. The first is Paraleucobryum longifolium, a silvery-grey moss that also likes acid fact it and Dicranum fulvum will grow together. When dry, they are easier to tell apart because Paraleucobryum is more of a grey-green and D. fulvum tends toward a black-green. Also when dry, if you use a higher power lens (20x) you can see a definite striping pattern on the back of Paraleucobryum's leaf. This is due to alternating bands of empty cells and cells with chlorophyll. When Paraleucobryum grows on tree bases, it can sometimes be confused with Dicranum viride because sometimes it has a few broken leaf tips. However, D. viride is never wispy and contorted when dry and is a bright green.
Paraleucobryum longifolium

Dicranum fulvum
Dicranum viride 
(photo by M. Luth)

The second moss is Oncophorus loves rotten logs, especially in wet areas such as wooded swamps....the same place you'd also find Dicranum flagellare. Oncophorus, much less common,  is much wispier and never has stiff little brood branches at the tips of it's branches like D. flagellare. Also it often has capsules which are curved and have a definite 'adam's apple'.
Oncophorus wahlenbergii
(photo by M. Luth)

Oncophorus capsule - note the 'adam's apple' at the base of the capsule.

Dicranum flagellare  Note the stiff, upright brood branches which break off very easily and can grow into new plants. These are best developed in the late summer or early fall. My daughter used to call this the 'haircut' moss because she would rub her hand over the top making the brood branches fly off in all directions, thus giving it a 'haircut'.

1 comment:

  1. It'll always be Haircut Moss to me! Thanks for this post; I hadn't connected Leucobryum and Oncophorus with the Dicranums (Dicrana).