Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mosses of Central Florida 2. Octoblepharum albidum

Leaves of Octoblepharum are crowded in upward-facing rosettes,
resembling tiny bromeliads. 
 [For other mosses in this series, see the Table of Contents]

Octoblepharum albidum Hedw. is one of the more common and distinctive mosses in our area.  Its long, thick, strap-like leaves, typically pale green in color, and arranged in tight rosettes make it easily recognizable.  In local flatwoods and sandhill associations, it occurs in relatively dry banks, on roots or the bases of trees.  I have recently found it also growing on the trunks of date palms planted on the University of South Florida campus.

Octoblepharum is one of the few genera of mosses with leaves more than one cell thick.  Large, water-storage cells lie above and below 1-2 layers of thin photosynthetic cells in the center. Ovoid sporangia are erect and symmetrical (compare with those in Leucobryum, which are bent to the side).

The pale-colored, strap-shaped leaves of Octoblepharum are readily recognized.
 According to Reese (1984) the species is found throughout the tropics, but outside of Florida has been found only in a few places around New Orleans, Louisiana, and long ago near Matagorda Bay in Texas.  In the herbarium at the University of South Florida, the species is represented by collections as far north as Levy and Marion Counties, and is abundant in the southern and west-central part of the state.

Reference: Reese, W. D. 1984.  Mosses of the Gulf South.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge and London.