Saturday, December 5, 2020


 As I find this platform cumbersome to work with, I invite you to follow my Instagram account at ne_mosses  I will be posting photos of mosses nearby (for me, western Mass) as well as excerpts from my upcoming book Ecological Guide to Mosses of New England. Hope to see you there! Sue

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Looking for Gold....Goblins Gold

 When you find yourself looking deep under a ledge where the light is dim, or way in a deep dark recess under a root, or even in the dim light of an old stone foundation under a barn, that’s the time to be looking for gold.....Goblin’s Gold. 

 Reaching in, you grab a handful of the shiny stuff, but when you open your hand there’s nothing there! You might just have found Schistostega pennata. A tiny delicate moss that can grow in the darkest of holes on soil. The shiny stuff you see is the persistent luminous protonema from which it arises. Sometimes you might find yourself holding a fragile, tiny, pale-green, fern-like moss which is the sterile form and most often seen. It shrivels quite quickly when removed from the dark, moist soil where you found it. If you are lucky enough to find capsules, you’ll see that they are ovoid, erect and have no peristome, or teeth, around the mouth.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bryophyte course at Eagle Hill

This June I will be coteaching a beginners bryophyte course with Jerry Jenkins at Eagle Hill in Maine.

For Information on this course:

For general program information, go to
For more information, contact Marilyn Mayer:    or  207-546-2821

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Moss Word of the Day: JULACEOUS


What a great word!
But what does it mean in reference to mosses?

It means that the branch is smoothly cylindric, the leaves so closely overlapping that it resembles a caterpillar or catkin.

Some common mosses that have julaceous branches are....

Myurella sibirica
This moss is not as julaceous as it's relative Myurella julacea.
Both are very tiny little mosses that like to grow in rock crevices on thin soil or mixed with other mosses on basic or calcareous rock.

Medium sized mosses would include Thelia asprella & T. hirtella, both species like to grow on tree bases in oak-hickory woods, and also Entodon seductrix which is found on limy rocks, soil and tree bases.

Thelia hirtella

close up of Thelia asprella 
(photo by Jerry Jenkins)

Entodon seductrix
(photo by Jerry Jenkins)

One of our largest julaceous mosses is Bryoandersonia illecebra which is very worm-like when new shoots first appear in the spring. It grows on the ground.

Bryoandersonia illecebra in spring
(photo by Jerry Jenkins)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

a march day interlude

it's a beautiful sunny day today so i went for a little hike and during that hike i  was looking at the mosses on tree trunks as there's still so much snow on the ground.
i was thinking about ulota crispa and orthotrichum and how, when i first started mosses, i didn't know the difference between the two.
so i got out my camera and tried to get some shots from far away to close up of the two.
both were growing on the same big maple tree in my yard.

on a dry day, they are very easy to tell apart!
ulota crispa (like its name) has very 'crisped' and curly leaves when it's dry.
orthotrichum, on the other hand, has leaves that are straight and hug the stem.

so, on your next hike in the woods or on trees in your yard, see if you can find both species!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Mnium Group

Mniums used to be all lumped together in one genus - Mnium...
then in 1968 T.J. Koponen separated them into different groups:

1) Leaf margin entire (or obscurely toothed): Pseudobryum, Cyrtomnium & Rhizomnium

2) Leaf margins with single teeth: Plagiomnium

3) Leaf margins with double teeth: Mnium

Let's take a look at the first group:

Rhizomniums are fairly common in our area, especially R. punctatum and R. appalachianum
Both species have leaves that have a strong border of long cells with interior cells that are roundish.
R. punctatum is much smaller than R. appalachianum and i find it most often on rocks in wet areas whereas R. appalachianum grows in wet, swampy soil.

Rhizomnium punctatum

R. punctatum - note the smooth stems

Rhizomnium punctatum also has no tomentum or brownish hairs growing up the stem; only at the base.

a nice clump of Rhizomnium appalachianum

a scan of R. appalachianum. notice how the stem is covered with brown 'stuff' covering the stem.
Pseudobryum cinclidiodes is very much like Rhizomnium appalachianum. It is similar size-wise (a BIG moss) as well as liking the same type of wet places in the woods. It's leaves are a little more oblong, and if you look really closely it actually has really short, blunt teeth. Also, the leaf border is much weaker. If you look at it under the microscope, its cells are much more elongated and are in rows that angle away from the costa. The first time i saw this, i just couldn't figure it was a mnium with bryum cells!

Pseudobryum cinclidiodes, compare the leaf shape to R. appalachianum
The last moss of this group is Cyrtomnium hymenophylloides...a rare moss of northern areas growing on limy ledges.  it's quite small, a beautiful blue green with round leaves basically in two rows.

Cyrtomnium hymenophylloides

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

More on Bryums & Mniums

Bryums & Mniums are very similar to each other at first usually notes that they both have capsules that are 'droopy' and they both have leaves that are bordered with long cells with shorter cells in the middle. Both are acrocarps with the capsules coming out of the tip of the plant and not on a side branch.

Let's start with the differences: although both groups have drooping capsules, Bryums have capsules with distinct 'necks':
Bryum caespiticium capsule
the neck is the top smaller 'bulge' before the stem.
Plagiomnium cuspidatum capsule (with calyptra)
note that although the capsule is drooping, there is no 'neck' to it
Bryum leaves tend to be more lanceolate, with no or few teeth and often end in a sharp needle tip:

Bryum caespiticium leaf

Mnium leaves tend to be large-ish, rounded, oblong, elliptical or obovate and often have obvious teeth (excepting the Rhizomnium group, which we'll talk about later).

Mnium spinulosum leaf

Plagiomnium ciliare leaf

Although both groups have leaves that are bordered with long cells, the border is usually quite strong in the Mniums and weaker in Bryums. The interior cells are also different, with Mnium cells being generally round or hexagonal and Bryums having long rectangular or diamond-shaped (rhomboidal) cells.

This drawing is a section from the edge of Plagiomnium ciliare,
note the rounded interior cells bordered by several rows of long cells
and the long, multicellular teeth

Interior  rhomboidal cells from Rhodobryum ontariense

So, now you know how to tell a Bryum from a Mnium...
next post we'll talk about the main groups of Mnium: Rhizomnium, Plagiomnium & Mnium