Dawsonia polytrichoides (Polytrichaceae)

Dawsonia polytrichoides Mt Hypipamee DSC_0670

It is always a pleasure to see a primitive plant and realize that wigs were not modern inventions!

The family of mosses known as the Hairy cap mosses (Polytrichaceae) have probably been wearing wigs since probably 300 million years back, or possibly further [See an interesting article].

The “wigs” or more accurately the calyptras that over the capsules are just one aspect of these mosses’ fascinating morphology. Beneath these calyptras are a cap which will fall off to expose the teeth on the mouth (or peristome) of the capsule. But instead of a row of sharpish teeth that one might expect to see from a cookie monster, the peristome teeth of Dawsonia are fine and clustered into a hair-like turf.

Dawsonia polytrichoides Mt Hypipamee DSC_0674
On some plants in a colony, the tips of the shoots become modified into a bowl or cup-like structure to hold the male sexual bits (not clearly visible). This is called a splash cup as the male bits are dispersed by raindrops slashing them out of the cup and onto another plant containing the female bits.

Dawsonia polytrichoides Mt Hypipamee DSC_0675
Peristome teeth of a Dawsonia capsule

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About David Tng

I am David Tng, a hedonistic botanizer who pursues plants with a fervour. I chase the opportunity to delve into various aspects of the study of plants. I have spent untold hours staring at mosses and allied plants, taking picture of pollen, culturing orchids in clean cabinets, counting tree rings, monitoring plant flowering times, etc. I am currently engrossed in the study of plant ecology (a grand excuse to see 'anything I can). Sometimes I think of myself as a shadow taxonomist, a sentimental ecologist, and a spiritual environmentalist - but at the very root of it all, a "plant whisperer"!
This entry was posted in Mosses and allies Families, Polytrichaceae (Hairy Cap Moss family) and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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