Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Mosses of Central Florida 52. Fontinalis sullivantii

Fontinalis sullivantii Lindberg (Fontinalaceae) is a straggling moss often found in water, but also on soil or tree bases in moist areas.  Leaves are spread primarily on two sides of the stem. Note all photos are of other species, provided to illustrate the general characteristics of the genus.

Fontinalis antipyretica, showing aquatic habitat.
Photo by Bernd Haynold, Creative Commons license,
posted on Wikimedia Commons
The stiff leaves lack a midrib, and the cells are worm-like, but plump, and densely filled with chloroplasts. A few cells at the base of the leaf are larger, more squarish, and clear.

Spore capsules appear along the stem and are nestled within a cluster of specialized leaves, lacking an elongate stalk.
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The flattened leafy shoots of Fontinalis sullivantii.  Photo by
Kurt Stuber, Creative Commons license, posted on Wikimedia
Commons.
The leaf tip of Fontinalis squamosa, showing the curvy,
worm-like cells filled with chloroplasts. 
Photo by Hermann Schachner, public domain, posted on
Wikimedia Commons



This species occurs throughout eastern U.S. and northern Europe.
It is found in northern Florida down to Hillsborough, Polk and Osceola Counties, though it has been sparsely collected.





Fontinalis may be confused with other aquatic mosses in Florida, but is distinguished from them by its lack of a midrib, the elongate, worm-like cells with thick walls, and the spore capsules that remain nestled within clusters of bract-like leaves.

Two other species have been collected sparsely in northern Florida: Fontinalis novae-anglae from the central Panhandle and possibly Orange County, and F. sphagnifolia, from central north Florida, with unconfirmed reports from Hillsborough and Polk Counties.  They differ in small, technical details.
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The base of a leaf of Fontinalis antipyretica, showing larger,
clear, basal cells, captured nicely by Hermann Schachner, public
domain, posted on Wikimedia Commons.





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