A moss is a flowermuch less, spore-creating plant - through the spores developed in little capsules. The introductory WHAT IS A BRYOPHYTE? page provided that bryophytes have a gametophyte stage and also a sporophyte phase. The spore capsule, often via a supporting stalk (referred to as a seta), is the sporophyte and this grows from the gametophyte stage.

You are watching: Mosses are _____.

You will commonly view the statement that a moss gametophyte is composed of leaves on stems. That statement is so close to the whole truth that it"s no surpclimb it"s so typically used.

When a moss spore germinates it first develops a protonema. This is a filamentous to sheet-choose expansion develop, regularly via a strong resemblance to an algal nest or a fern prothallus. In due course one or even more stems thrive from the protonema and leaves develop on the stems, offering climb to one or more leafy-stemmed plants. In almost all moss species, the protonemata are ephemeral, via the leafy-stemmed plants the persistent and leading growth develop. But tright here are exceptions. In some species the protonema is persistent and also the leafy part is ephemeral. The term gametophore is used for the stems-and-leaves component and the protonema and gametophore together comprise the gametophyte. Now, as currently provided, in almost all species the protonema is ephemeral and also insignificant once compared through the leafy-stemmed growth. So the leafy-stemmed part is the gametophyte in the good majority of species. It currently becomes clear why that reality is frequently generalized to the statement that the gametophyte in all mosses is leafy-stemmed. For more around the early on advance, check out the LIFE CYCLE SECTION. In contrast to the instance in mosses, a liverwort protonema is rudimentary.

The aim of this page is ssuggest to describe the features you can view in a moss - in both the gametophyte and sporophyte steras. You will watch some, yet by no implies all, of the array in moss gametophytes and also sporophytes. This page offers an introduction of the features found in mosses and tbelow are web links to even more details on some of the topics.

While the identification of mosses frequently needs the usage of a microscopic lense, you can learn a lot just by making use of your eyes and a handlens that magnifies 10 times. In the recommendation button you’ll uncover some books through colour photographs of Australian mosses. Looking via them will certainly offer you a great development to moss diversity.

The following recommendations are very useful for more information around this excellent diversity, from the macroscopic check out to the microscopic level. Much of the adhering to information on this page has come from these books.

Before going on it’s worth noting that you could confuse mosses with leafy liverworts (which additionally have a leaves-on-stems gametophyte stage). However, when you’ve check out this web page and the WHAT IS A LIVERWORT? page, you will certainly have actually all the information to let you tell the 2 apart. For convenience, the differentiating attributes of all the bryophytes are summarised on the page that allows you answer the question: WHICH BRYOPHYTE IS IT?

Moss gametophytes

While it may be true to say that a moss gametophyte has actually "stems and also leaves", that statement leaves a lot unsassist. Tbelow is many intricacy and range in these ”stems and also leaves" plants.

Ptychomnium aciculare, reflecting stems


Moss stems are mostly fairly weak and also, if free-standing, fairly short. Stem colour varies from green to shades of brvery own, for example, Ptychomnium aciculare. Stems are often green once young, with chlorophyll in the cells.

The mosses in the households Dawsoniaceae and Polytrichaceae administer striking exceptions to the general rule stated at the beginning of the previous paragraph. Within these family members the stems are fairly firm, via the plants being upideal and also quite durable. In this photo of a Dawsonia you can check out the brown stems quite plainly. Polytrichum or Dawsonia plants can be rather tall, with the free-standing stems of some species thriving to over 60 centimetres in elevation. Hence it is not surpincreasing that civilization frequently mistake these mosses for herbaceous flowering plants. Though the stems in the Dawsoniaceae and Polytrichaceae are reasonably firm, they contain no lignin and are not woody.

Two development forms - tufty and trailing

There are fundamentally 2 growth forms for moss plants. In one the stems are basically erect, via simply one upideal stem per plant or via the initial erect stem producing some branches, depending upon the species , providing the individual plant a tufty or shrubby appearance. In the various other development form the moss will certainly have actually greatly trailing stems. If the stems cling to the substrate the all at once appearance, to the naked eye, will certainly be of a creeping plant however in some species they hang, virtually curtain-like, from branches . The trailing mosses are commonly highly branched through the branches flourishing along the substprice - but many kind of such species additionally create short, upideal branches. Branches build from surchallenge cells in the originating stem and in most mosses branches are straightforward, single outgrowths from the originating stems. In Sphagnum you will view branches developing in fascicles. Within such a fascicle, some of the branches will be stout and spanalysis, while others are slender and also drooping.

In species via an upideal expansion form the stems may be incredibly short (practically non-existent) to fairly lengthy - as already provided for some Dawsonia species. If there is just a really rudimentary stem the plant will certainly look choose a bunch of leaves flourishing from just a solitary point. In genera favor Polytrichum and Dawsonia the individual plants are frequently just single stems, through branching rare. Amongst the upappropriate mosses there are the so-called "dendroid" mosses, which have actually a spcheck out of branches atop a vertical stem . The word "dendroid" implies "tree-like" and it"s easy to see how apt that term is. In some situations, rather of branches in all directions, there"ll be a fan-choose spread of branches. You"ll also see such mosses dubbed "umbrella mosses" - an equally apt descriptive expression.

Tbelow are many erect-stemmed species of moss where the plants flourish extremely carefully together in mat-favor or cushion-choose colonies. In such situations it deserve to be difficult (or even impossible) to make out the individual plants, unless you very closely tease acomponent a tiny area of the mat or cushion to watch what it’s written of. Here’s a photo of a large swarm of a silvery-green moss, Bryum argenteum and here’s a closer watch of the top surface of such a moss nest as soon as wet . You have the right to view a somewhat cobblestone-choose surconfront. If you take a really tiny sample from the nest and look at it side-on you view this . What you watch in the last photo is a small variety of individual plants, packed together very tightly.

Leptostomum macrocarpum, mirroring dead material listed below

In the instance of the cushion-choose development, a lot of the cushion may be written of dead material (photo right). As the stems thrive, the older leaves (reduced dvery own on the stem) die, leaving a living green layer aheight a mass of brvery own, dead material. That brown section will be a mix of rhizoids, dead leaves and stems, and also other organic matter that may have actually been trapped by the plants making up the moss-cushion. You deserve to still make out some leaves in that mass of brvery own. As the stems proceed to flourish, even more and more dead material will accumulate. Such largely-dead cushions are more characteristic of moist areas, where they have the right to flourish to a substantial size. It is common to watch sizable green cushions, on rock or trees for instance, in moist habitats.

Instead of flourishing in cushions, you can also gain simple-stemmed species where the plants prosper independently from each other. Then they look prefer many kind of small, green fingers poking up from the soil.

In a creeping moss tright here might be short, leafy branches that flourish away from the substrate but such branches are sindicate off-shoots from the creeping stems. There are also moss species that create long, trailing stems but where (acomponent from a little attachment area) the stems don’t cling to anypoint. In such instances you have the right to watch a pendulous, curtain-prefer expansion, such as that of Papillaria flavolimbata .

In some species of clinging, trailing-stemmed mosses the short branches that thrive ameans from the substrate might be extremely easy to view whereas the clinging stems might be hard to view. For example, the upappropriate branches might be so many regarding hide the trailing stems or maybe it’s a varieties through extremely few leaves on the clinging stems, so making it harder to realize tright here is stem there. Or it may be that the primary stems are thriving in bark cracks or are surprise by leaf litter. In all such situations, unless you look closely, you might conveniently mistake the separate upbest branches of the one, creeping moss plant as countless individual plants of a tufted species.

In Gigaspermum repens tright here is a creeping, mainly leafmuch less, underground stem that is hardly ever seen. All that is visible over ground are brief, erect leafy branches (1 to 3 millimetres tall). It would certainly be basic to think of each such leafy branch as a sepaprice plant.


All mosses have actually rhizoids. These are anchoring structures, superficially root-like, yet without the absorptive functions of true roots. Moss rhizoids are constantly multi-celled and also regularly branched, whereas liverwort rhizoids are largely single-celled and also hardly ever branched. Rhizoids are current at the protonemal phase. Once stems have occurred rhizoids occur at the bases of stems (in the tufty species) or alengthy the stems (in the trailing mosses). While all mosses have actually rhizoids, some species might be dense with rhizoids while on others the rhizoids are thin .

Moss rhizoid systems have the right to be comprehensive. Tright here are examples of soil mosses where the above-ground plant may be just a centimetre or so in height - however wbelow the rhizoid mechanism reaches 3 or even more centimetres into the soil. Rhizoids aren"t roots and do not conduct water and also nutrients internally, but a mass of rhizoids deserve to conduct water externally by capillary activity. In some species the rhizoids are wound together, nearly rope-prefer, and such strands are exceptionally efficient at moving water by capillary activity.


In a dry moss plant the leaves are generally folded right into or curled about the stems. In such situations the leaves unfold or uncurl when the plant becomes wet. Therefore a moss have the right to look rather different in the wet and dry claims. However, there are species wright here, also in a moist plant, the leaves still clasp the stem.

The individual leaves are tiny, primarily from fifty percent a millimetre to three millimetres long. They are constantly attached straight to the stem, never with a short stalk. In most genera the leaves are simply one cell thick, making them translucent. In many kind of such genera the leaves are thickened alengthy their long main axes. Such a thickening is dubbed a nerve or costa. Tright here are a couple of genera (such as Leucobryum and Sphagnum) wright here the leaves are several cells thick. Moss leaves primarily taper to the guideline (though the tapering may be sudden or gradual). The tip might proceed as a lengthy hair-favor extension, called a hairpoint.

Campylopus introflexus, mirroring hair points

The photo (right) mirrors a colony of Campylopus introflexus, a common and also widespreview species in Australia. In this species each leaf has actually a hairsuggest and the photo reflects the hairpoints rather clearly. Leaf bases might vary, relying on species, being anything from much narrower to a lot wider than they are at mid-leaf, and they might be long or short in relation to width. The leaves commonly have smooth or practically smooth margins. The margins may be toothed but you do not get the heavily divided leaves that are widespread in the leafy liverworts.

Different parts of the plant might have various types of leaves. For example, in many kind of trailing species the leaves on the upright branches are different to those on the creeping stems. In many kind of mosses, whether trailing or tufty, the leaves that surround the egg and also sperm developing organs differ from the various other leaves on the plant.

There"s more around bryophyte leaves in the LEAF SECTION.

Antheridia and also archegonia

The male and female gametes (eggs and sperm) are created on the gametophyte (in unique frameworks called antheridia and also archegonia, respectively) and also a fertilized egg will build into a sporophyte. Thus the spores are component of the sexual reproduction cycle. There"s even more around this in the REPRODUCTION SECTION. Mosses have the right to be divided into 2 broad teams, relying on where the archegonia are developed. In the acrocarpous mosses the archegonia are produced at the ends of the main stems. In the pleurocarpous mosses the archegonia are created on short side-shoots, not on the main stems.

Moss sporophytes

A moss sporophyte is composed of a spore-containing capsule, maybe sitting apeak a stalk (referred to as a seta). In this photograph you have the right to check out many type of brownish sporophytes (the stalked spore capsules) that have grvery own from the greenish, leafy-stemmed gametophyte. The sporophyte"s development is debated in the SPOROPHYTE DEVELOPMENT SECTION.

In nearly all moss species the capsule has a well-identified mouth at the end oppowebsite the stalk or the allude attaching the capsule to a stem. When tbelow is a mouth, the spores are released through that mouth. There is a really little variety of mouth-much less mosses - such as species of the genus Andreaea. This genus is typically found in polar locations and in sub-alpine to alpine areas (and also alpine areas in the tropics). The capsules of Andreaea execute not have mouths. Instead they open by slits in the sides of the capsules. In some genera (such as Archidium) the capsules have actually neither mouths nor splits in their slits in their sides. Instead, the capsules rupture iron a regular basis.

See more: What Is The Lowest Point Of A Wave S Flashcards, Wave Characteristics Review (Article)

The mature spore capsule might (depending on species) hang dvery own, stick up - or be held at any angle in in between. The means the capsule opens (mouth, side slits, ircontinuous rupturing) and the orientation of the capsule play necessary functions in the way in which spores are released and there"s even more about spore dispersal in the in DISPERSAL SECTION.