Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus • Rough goose neck moss • Electrified cat’s tail moss

Familia: Hylocomiaceae ⇾Genus: Rhytidiadelphus • goose neck moss ⇾Species: Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus – rough goose neck moss

Genus name: Rhytidiadelphus • フサゴケ属• fusa goke

The name Rhytidiadelphus is based on two Greek words: the Greek rhytis, meaning wrinkle and the Greek adelphos, meaning brother.  There is another moss named Rhytidium: some people think Rhytidiadelphus means brother of Rhytidium, and others say Rhytidiadelphus means wrinkled brother, or wrinkled brotherhood.

About genus: Rhytidiadelphus, goose neck or “feather mosses,” are large (about 10 cm) robust mosses, in which the shoots are erect to lying along the ground (procumbent.) The stems are usually long and irregularly branched, resembling a feather. The leaves are broad at the base, gradually or abruptly narrowing to a sharply pointed tip; each leaf may have a short double nerve, or it may be nerveless. The seta (capsule’s stalk) is deep red and smooth.

The genus  contains 4-5 Species (+ several variations) – their world distribution:

 Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus (rough goose neck moss) – is known to occur in Northern
Hemisphere, but also Eurasia (Europe & Asia) and New Zealand.
 Rhytidiadelphus loreus (goose neck or lanky moss) – North America, Europe and some
Atlantic Islands
 Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus (square goose neck moss) – North America, Eurasia, New
Zealand and Tasmania, plus some Atlantic Islands
 Rhytidiadelphus subpinnatus  — North America and Eurasia
 Rhytidiadelphus japonicum (Japanese goose neck moss) – occurs on all 4 big islands in
Japan, as well as on the Aleutian Islands.

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2/16/17 – Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus – next to a 2″ toothpick – you can see  its characteristic bushy appearance and bent tip

Species description: Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus is also knows as rough goose neck moss, bigshaggy moss, and because of its fuzzy appearance and tail-like shape it is also called the ‘electrified cat’s tail moss’.

オウフサゴケ • the genus name is fusa goke. The species name is the same except for the first two characters, which are Romanized as ‘o-u’, meaning ‘large’ fuss goke. It grows on Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku.

The Latin species name refers to the triangular shape of the leaves and the occasional three-rowed arrangement of the uppermost leaves of some stems.

Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus is a bushy, shaggy moss with long, branching shoots giving it somewhat untidy appearance. The branch leaves have two weak veins extending to over half of the length. The drawn-out tip is toothed.

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2/17/17 – R. triquetrus in a pot: green, fuzzy leaves on red stems

It has a pleurocarpous (spreading) growth and forms pale yellow-green, loose mats of coarse, interwoven, sub-erect, branched shoots in which the strongly divergent leaves form bristly shoot tips. The stem is red, while the leaves are yellow-green in color. Sporophytes are red-brown when mature and maturation typically occurs in the spring.

Habitat: rough goose neck moss usually grows in well-drained sites in coniferous forests, on cliff shelves and over boulders and logs; occasionally epiphytic on tree trunks. It grows terrestrially on humus-rich substrates and is less common in lowland rainforests. It is often the dominating moss species in moderately rich forest habitats in the boreal regions and the PNW.

 Distribution: Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus is known to occur mostly in Northern Hemisphere (north America and Europe), but also some places in Asia and New Zealand.

In North America across the boreal portion of Canada and Alaska, southward in the east in mountains to the southern Appalachians and Arkansas, in the west to California.

In Washington State, there are four species of Rhytidiadelphus: Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus, Rhytidiadelphus loreus, Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus  and Rhytidiadelphus subpinnatus.

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SJG • 2/14/17 – R. triquetrus (center-R of the pic – bigger, bushy, pale green leaves on red stems)  vs R. squarrous (shorter and more compact, darker green leaves also on red stems)

R. triquetrus vs R. squarrosus:  (we have both of those mosses in our garden, mostly in W) R. triquetrus is often conspicuous, with tall, tough, erect stems from which branches arise irregularly to give a bushy habit; the leaves are large and spreading, and capsules are rarely formed. It is found mostly in woodland clearings. R. squarrosus is a smaller moss with rough/scaly (squarrose) leaves; the shoot top tips have a characteristic star-like appearance. It is found in moist grassland and is a common weed in lawns.

SJG notes:

Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus mostly grows on the west side of the Tea House Garden (Area W):

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SJG • 2/14/17 – Large pale green mat of R. triquetrus near the roji hedge and a smaller patch near the tree base; large Polytrichum commune colony in the middle. Note the strands of Rhytidiadelphus on top of Polytrichum. R. triquetrus will become darker as it gets more sun later in the year.

1.) It forms a robust irregular large (2-3 m diameter) lush mat, rather loosely woven, behind Machiai, but often ‘jumps’ on top of the neighboring colony of Polytrichum commune (prized cryptomeria/sugi moss), from which is continuously weeded out, so it does not choke it.

2.) In roji proper, also on the west side, between stepping-stones and the fence – it forms longish and much more dense mat of very shaggy and carpet-like appearance. Unlike the path behind Machiai, this mat is strongly attached to soil.

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SJG • 2/14/17 – Up close of the photo above:  R. triquetrus ‘jumping’ on top of nearby Polytrichum commune colony

So far it was not found in any other parts of the garden.

_ _ _

Polish species name of Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus is fałdownik trzyrzędowy (listed as under protection plant in Poland* – see link below)

 

 

 

References and related reading:

* – Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus is under protection in Poland

• Nice entry on the R. triquetrus from University of British Colombia blog

• Clear macro photos of the plant from Pbase (crowd-sourced photo galleries)

• Up-close pic of R. triquetrus moss + a drawing of typical leaf with 2 costas (veins) and toothed tip from Mosses & Liverworts of the Outer Hebrides (UK)

• Most American and British sources list Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus as growing mostly around Northern Hemisphere and some parts of Eurasia; this research paper from New Zealand describes HYLOCOMIACEAE family there, including Rhytidiadelphus genus

Literary reference – a moss tourist note:

‘The Magical World of Moss Gardening’ by Annie Martin has a chapter (page 44) about the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island, WA. Part of this 150-acre woodland reserve  is designed as the moss garden, which is considered the largest in North America with more than 40 species of bryophytes that thrive in PNW climate. The author writes that ‘R. triquetrus adorn weathered tree stumps’ and points out where to look for other mosses.   So, if you are visiting Seattle Japanese Garden in person, maybe you can hop on a ferry from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island and visit Bloedel Reserve – it’s about 7 miles from the ferry dock terminal on the other side of the water, and besides having the moss garden part it also contains the Japanese Garden part.

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Climacium • Tree Moss

Familia: Climaciaceae ⇾Genus: Climacium ⇾Species: Climacium dendroides & Climacium americanum

Genus name: Climacium • コウヤノマンネングサ属 • ko-u-ya-no man-nen gusa zoku (literally “Kouya’s perennial grass” + zoku=genus)

About genus: Tree mosses – any of the plants of the genus Climacium -are large (5-10 cm) and resemble miniature evergreen trees; they are found mostly throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

The generic name Climacium is derived from the Greek for a little ladder, referring to the appearance of the inner teeth.

Six species are known at present, 4 or 5 grow in Japan and 2 in North America:
• Climacium americanum– American climacium moss
• Climacium dendroides– tree climacium moss, sometimes called European tree moss

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SJG • 3/4/17 – Climacium spreads through strong, horizontal, subterranean primary stems, on which dendroids grow on secondary erect stems (the capsule is of Atrichum, NOT Climacium) The bench slats are 2.75″ (7 cm) wide

Species description: Frankly, we don’t know which particular species of Climacium grows in SJG, and the latest edition of ‘Flora of North America’ (volume 27 &28) lists both C. americanum and C. dendroids as occurring in WA State.

Noteworthy:
1.) Many bryologists questioned the distinction between C. dendroides and C. americanum (e.g. Lawton, 1971).
2.) Sometimes you will see references to a separate C. kindbergii, which is recognized by some authors on the varietal level, while others interpret it as modification of C. americanum growing in continuously flooded habitats [see note * below].

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SJG • 2/14/17 – Climacium colony at the SW corner of the Tea House – dull green patch right at the corner, irregularly spreading towards the stone

The species description here is of Climacium dendroides • フロウソウ • fu-ro-u-so-u [literary ‘not-aging grass’ – see the translator’s note** below], but the differences between the species are small and hard to see without a lens and/or a microscope (the tips of leaves and parts of the capsule are slightly different). In Japan C. dendroides was found present on all the four big islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.

Climacium dendroides moss appears to be upright (apocarpous) but it’s actually classified as spreading (pleurocarp), because it grows through a strong

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SJG • 2/14/17 – close up of the Climacium in SW corner of the Tea House; seen from above

horizontal, subterranean primary stem. The visible parts, the tree-like dendroids, are actually on secondary erect stems.

These plants are typically dark dull green, but sometimes also yellow-brown in color. At the time the pictures were taken for this post (February and early March) the plants are still pale green.

Sporophytes are rarely produced, so observing them is often difficult, as the Climacium has been known to produce extensive clonal populations geographically separated between female and male individuals. The sporophores arise from the secondary stems on long, erect setae, which are sometimes clustered. The capsules are erect, smooth, cylindrical, and symmetric. The clustered capsules on Climacium look like miniature cattails [*** see link to the picture of sporophyte]

 

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SJG • 3/4/17 – Big and smaller moss: Climacium (foreground) next to  Atrichum (small dark green tuft above, in the middle of the picture)

Habitat: Climacium mosses are common in shady woods, in damp places on decayed logs, on roots of trees and on hummocks in swamps.
Distribution: Climacium dendroides occurs from northern and central Europe into Asia and North America with a disjunct distribution on the southern island of New Zealand. Climacium japonicum is endemic to Japan.

In North America Climacium dendroides is typically found from the subarctic area of Alaska to northeastern Quebec, and south to Pennsylvania in the east and California in the west, while Climacium americanum is typically found in the southern, mainland United States area. Climacium kindbergii is usually segregated to niches with a higher water level than the other two species.

SJG notes:

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3/5/17 • Climacium in pot, seen from the side

So far Climacium was only found in the Tea House Garden, in roji proper; about a year ago a handful of plants appeared on the south side of Tea House entrance, and it quickly spread, which we observed during weekly cleaning of the rojii’s mosses. By now (March 2017) it formed several fairly large colonies, one (about 2 meters in diameter) easily observed on the SW corner of the Tea House graveled edge.

This fairly large moss forms distinctive mats of bottle green and yellowish color; a few smaller mats are under the trees near the south fence of the Tea House.

Polish species name of Climacium dendroides: Drabik drzewkowaty

References and related reading:

* This info is from an article in Systematic Botany Journal, 1994; Systematics of Tree Mosses (Climacium: Musci): Genetic and Morphological Evidence by A. Jonathan Shaw, Michael S. Gutkin and Bryan R. Bernstein]

** From Cara Izumi, translator of Japanese names:

Genus:  Climacium コウヤノマンネングサ属. [ko-u-ya-no man-nen gusa zoku is the kana-ization of 高野の万年草, which is literally “Kouya’s perennial grass”. Kouya, I’m pretty sure, is a reference to an area in Wakayama Prefecture. Maybe this moss is common there? The area is mountainous, for sure, and famous for an important pilgrimage walk (google Mt. Koya!). 高野 is ‘Koya’; の is a participle indicating ownership; 万年 is literally ‘10,0oo years’, but it’s often used to indicate eternity or a perennial nature; and 草 means ‘grass’. Please remember that kanji characters can be read in several ways, so just because a character is pronounced one way doesn’t mean it’s always pronounced that way when you come across it again. And, you already know what ‘zoku’ means.]

Species:  Climacium dendroides (Grows on Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu).  フロウソウ. [fu-ro-u-so-u – this probably comes from a plant called 不老草, read the same way, meaning something like ‘not-aging grass’. It’s been considered a divine grass. The last character, 草 (so-u), is the one for ‘grass’; 不 (fu) means ‘not’ or ‘without’; and 老 (so-u) means ‘aged’ or ‘old’. ]

*** ‘Moss Plants and More’ blog has a picture of Climacium dendroides sporophyte, as well as interesting notes

Ohio University has a good write-up on 2 Climacium (+ C. kindbergii) species on American continent

Encyclopedia Britannica short but easy to read write-up on Tree Moss

• Michael Becker has a page in English on Climacium dendroides with a picture (most of the website is in German and French, but if you click on ‘Species’ on the top of the page it’ll take you to a page on central European mosses, the ones bolded are in English)

• Literary reference: ecological note

Tree mosses got their name because they LOOK like miniature trees, so it’s especially gratifying to find a word on mosses in a book about their big counter-parts, trees.

In his 2015 book ‘The Hidden Life on Trees’ Peter Wohlleben (link to NYT review) wrote about his experiences as a professional forester, originally trained to look at the trees from the point of view of optimizing the lumber industry. But he learned that the trees are healthier, stronger (and even more productive) if their ecological needs are respected. That convinced Wohlleben’s employer in the Eifel mountains in Germany to change the ways of managing their forest.

On page 64 he notes ‘[…] In central Europe there are no longer any true old-growth forests. The largest extensive stand of trees is between two hundred and three hundred years old. Until the forest preserves become old-growth forests once again, we must look to the west coast of Canada to understand the role played by ancient trees. […]’. He goes on to cite research from the Canadian universities about the large quantities of moss on the branches of trees at least 500 years old, and mutual benefits between the mosses and the trees. On page 166 and 167 he goes into how the mosses deal with getting food and light in the ancient forest.

The overall message of the book is that ecologically undisturbed communities of trees and whatever else naturally grows with them, are much stronger because they provide each other with support, ‘friendship’ and security for the whole community, while planted forests, because their roots are irreparably damaged when they are planted, seem almost incapable of networking/helping one another, affecting their health and stability.

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Leucolepis acanthoneuron • Menzies’ tree moss

Familia: Mniaceae ⇾Genus: Leucolepis ⇾Species: Leucolepis acanthoneuron

Genus nameLeucolepis Lindb. leucolepis umbrella moss (no Japanese name, as this moss doesn’t grow in Japan)

About genus: According to USDA classification Leucolepis Lindb. – leucolepis umbrella moss genus contains only 1 Species: Leucolepis acanthoneuron (Schwägr.) Lindb. – leucolepis umbrella moss.

The name Leucolepis is derived from Greek leuco = white, and lepis = scaly, alluding to scale-like stem leaves.

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2/16/17 – Leukolepis acanthoneuron (3 treelets and a new shoot) next to 2″ toothpick

Species description: Leucolepis acanthoneuron is one of the most easily recognized of mosses, as it’s truly dendroid (tree-like) – when held up it looks like a miniature palm tree. Plants are 3-8 cm tall, grow in in a grove of treelets – in tufts or mats, with erect stems reddish brown to black, branched on the top. Leaves are pale green (on young plants) to dark green, sometimes reddish brown, spreading on top of the stem.

The Native peoples used this plant as a dye.

Synonym(s): Leucolepis menziesii (Hook.) Steere in L. Koch

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SJG • 2/23/17 – hill on NW corner of ZZW area, where Leucolepis grows

Common names: tree moss, Menzies’ tree moss, umbrella moss, white-scaled tree moss. Also known as Leucolepis umbrella moss.

Attention: Many common names for mosses can be misleading as they are shared by different species, even genera: to make sure you are searching for a specific moss, refer to its Latin name, if known.

Habitat: Common on moist soil, rotten logs, and tree trunks, shaded habitats along streams, in lowlands and forests. In British Columbia it is found in swampy areas on logs, boulders, and earth. It is also epiphytic (living on the surface of plants) on deciduous trees, particularly Acer macrophylum and Quercus douglasii.

moss ZZE, spider/braided

SJG • 6/9/15 – mature colony of Lucolepis on the NW corner of ZZW;  top leaves are long and nearly curled into ringlets

Leucolepis is very shade-tolerant, but it’ll tolerate full sun in a boggy ground.

Distribution: Menzies’s tree moss is a western North American endemic, common in coastal areas from sea level to subalpine elevations; it grows in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, California.

 SJG notes: The best place in the Seattle Japanese Garden to observe Mienzies’ tree moss is on the NW corner of ZZW, where an established colony of irregular shape reaches the size of outstretched hands (about 2 meters). There are smaller, younger colonies sizes of dinner plate (about 18 cm) and dark green in color of Leucolepis acanthoneuron in the middle of ZZW hill, but they are not visible from the path.

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SJG • 12/20/16 – ZZW: found a few green Leucolepis on the edge of colony, mixed with Atrichum (star-like, at lower left and right) and Mnium (tall, leafy one at the middle back of the pic)

When I took the first pictures of the colony on the hill in the early June of 2015 it was thriving and its top leaves were so long they nearly curled into ringlets: younger, green specimens mixed with brown older ones made it appear as if the hill was covered with giant spiders.

The colony looked healthy for the entire next year, displaying the same mixture of young and old plants, until the scorching summer of 2016 turned it into unsightly shriveled dark brown and black mess, with no young plants to look at for half a year.

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SJG • 2/233/17 – New, tiny plants of Leucolepis emerge between blackened big old ones in ZZW

Then in January of 2017 the colony that looked quite dead started to sprout new green pokes, which soon turned to look like mini-fronds and by the end of February some of them filled in, and look like miniature palm trees – which means that the colony survived after all.

It’ll be interesting to observe how this new plants fill on top of the dead ones: I’ll post later in the year pictures.

 

References and related reading:

• Comprehensive report on Leucolepis acanthoneuron from NatureServe Explorer

• Good description and nice drawing of the plant from Missouri Botanical Garden

• Very clear picture of single Leucolepis acanthoneuron plant at iNaturalsit.org

• Page on Leucolepis from University of California herbarium

• Mienzies’s tree page from Kanaka Creek Regional Park at the Project Noah – crowd-sourced citizen-scientist website

• Literary reference – for moss gardeners:

Leucolopis acanthoneuron is a moss of American continent Pacific coast range only, so not mentioned in many books about moss. But it appears in a book by a local writer George Schenk, who used to run landscaping and nursery business in Seattle. On page 209 in his ‘Moss Gardening. Including Lichens, Liverworts and Other Miniatures’ book he advises that ‘this species transplants with ease into humusy shade garden. It is a first-rater among those mosses whose spread is not large, not small, but moderate’. Earlier in the chapter he writes that it’ll ‘extend into a small-scale ground cover about the size of a scatter rug’ […].

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Atrichum undulatum • Common Smoothcap moss

Familia: Polytrichaceae  →  Genus: Atrichum  → Species: Atrichum undulatum

Genus name:  Atrichum (Polytrichaceae) • タチゴケ属 • tachi-goke zoku (‘zoku’ means ‘genus’, ‘goke’ is ‘moss’) •

About genus: Atrichum is a moss from the family of Polytrichaceae, very common on soil banks and other areas of exposed mineral soil. This genus consists of upright unbranched stems with narrow undulate (wavy) leaves with toothed margins. Beneath the soil it has a creeping root-like structure from which rise the numerous simple erect 2-5cm tall stems. The genus contains about 20- 50 species, which are common in Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia.

The name Atrichum is derived from the Greek a = negation and trichos = hair and refers to the bald kalyptra (tissue/veil that protects the capsule containing the sporophyte).

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2/6/17 Atrichum undulatum

Species description: Atrichum undulatum • ナミガタタチゴケ • namigata tachi-goke. In Japan it grows on Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu.

Also known as Catherine’s moss or Wavy Catharinea in many European countries, and ‘Żurawiec falisty’ in Polish, which literally means Wavy Crane-like Moss.

Synonym(s): Polytrichum undulatum (j. Hedwig)

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SJG • 2/14/17 – A. undulatum around the steps to the Tea House Garden, along the West path – the brown above the steps is multitude os brown capsules, the green close to steps is actual folliage

Atrichum undulatum is a small to fairly large moss that can form extensive patches, usually dark green, but sometimes light green or yellowish when well-lit. The erect stems reach 5-7 cm, with leaves to 1 cm in length and are strongly crisped when dry. The leaves have up to seven plates of tissue running longitudinally up the leaf. Leaves are sparse below, more crowded above, with toothed leaf edges. The reddish-brown seta (stalk) holds brown capsule (the spore bearing structure of a moss), which is cylindrical and curved (sometimes almost horizontal), with a long beak on the lid. Capsules mature spring-summer (Apr- Jul).

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SJG • 2/14/17 – Close up from the picture above – A. undulatatum on the steps to roji

Cylindrical capsules are frequent, 3 to 4 mm long with a long weak beak of similar length, on a 2 to 4 cm long reddish seta.

Habitat: Usually found in shaded, well-drained woodlands on all but the most extreme soils. Grows in dry weedy habitats, especially roadside ditches; usually low elevations. Evidently introduced from Europe.

 Distribution: Atrichum undulatum is among the largest European terrestrial moss species. It is widespread across Europe, and due to its size is widely used in moss biology research. It also grows in North America and Asia (China, Japan, Kazachstan, Philippines, Russia, Taiwan).

[How many Atrichum species in WA state? – check on Friday]

 SJG notes: If Seattle Japanese Garden would ever get overgrown by moss, it would

moss S, under oaks, probably Polatrichum commune

SJG • 6/14/15 – huge mat of A. undulatum under the evergreen oaks in S

probably become Atrichum undulatum moss garden. This fairly big and exceptionally beautiful star-shaped moss with translucent green leaves grows in nearly every shady place of our Garden. It is our most prevalent moss that is juicy green half of the year, and appearing ‘blooming’ when its reddish-brown stalks hold dark brow mature capsules the other half (spring and summer).

Lots of it grows right at the entrance to roji (Tea House garden), around the stepping stones leading to machiai (well visible from the West

moss S, undr oaks

SJG • 6/14/15 – close-up of the moss from the picture above in area S: made a criss to show how the plants have only a few leaves at the bottom, tufting towards the top

path), but there is also abundance of it in nearly every other area of the Garden: along the East path in D, G and I, a huge mat under the evergreen oaks in S and along the Service Road (ZZE & ZZW).

Spore releasing time for Atrichum undulatum in our Garden – mid February: while taking the pics for this post on 2/14/17 noticed that the very charachteristic long operculum (lid/flap which controls release of the spores)  was absent on most of the capsules – it usually falls off when the moss is ready to release the spores – and when accidentally brushed the capsules they released the spores, indeed.

What’s in the name: search for the meaning of common names of Atrichum revealed interesting information, shared below.

A fellow guide Cara Izumi, who researches and translates the Japanese common names for this blog and who has background in linguistics, wrote this about the genus name:

タチゴケ属 – tachi-goke zoku. ‘Zoku’ means ‘genus’, ‘goke’ is ‘moss’, and it looks like ‘tachi-goke’ is a phonetic kana-ization, or could be the other way around. If it’s a Japanese word, it could have a meaning of ‘standing’.

And this about species name:

ナミガタタチゴケ – namigata tachi-goke. The second word was in the previous name, and ‘namigata’ is an expression (compound noun) with ‘nami’ usually meaning ‘wave’ or ‘row’ when used for natural shapes, so for example a row of trees is called a ‘namiki’, with ‘ki’ meaning trees. ‘Nami’ can also refer to something that’s normal, or average. ‘Gata’ in this case I’m pretty sure means ‘in the style of’.

This all make sense, as Atrichum is an upright/erect (Acrocarpous) moss and its ‘wavy’ leaf pattern is congruent with names often used in many other cultures (also in Polish name – ‘wavy crane-like moss’).

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SJG • 2/14/16 – Polytrichum moss (light green, spiky on the L) next to A. undulatum (R)

Search for etymology of the crane’s presence in the Polish common name of A. undulatum revealed nothing apart from the fact that many mosses do have common name in Polish, usually descriptive of appearance or comparing to other things in nature; as well as the fact that scientific taxonomy (in Latin) is used side by side with a Polish one.

Various Atrichum species are often called crane’s bill moss because the operculum (lid/flap) on the moss capsule looks supposedly like a crane’s bill. The name wavy-leaved crane’s bill moss has been applied to several species, esp. Atrichum crispum (a moss of the eastern US and parts of Canada, as well as China and Japan) and Atrichum undulatum (a moss of Europe, Asia and Africa).

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8/25/16 – WA Arboretum nursery:  our gardeners cultivate A. undulatum on trays

In many European countries, where the Atrichum undulatum is widely spread and probably originates from, is called Catherine’s moss, named so in the late 1700’s by a German botanist Jakob Friedrich Ehrhart in honor of the Russian tsarina Catherine II.

The name was changed several times at the beginning of 1800’s – to Polytrichum undulatum by Hedwig, then to Catharinea undulata by Friedrich Weber and Daniel M. H. Mohr and finally to Atrichum undulatum by Palisot de Beauvois – yet it’s still referred to as Catherine’s moss today, even in academic research (see link in References and related reading below).

Polish species name: żurawiec falisty

References and related reading:

• Concise write-up with pictures + interesting note about A.undulatum being widely misunderstood, from DiscoverLife.org – a multi-academic web project

• Very clear up-close picture of Catherine’s Moss from INaturalist.org – an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information and also an internationally crowdsourced species identification system

• Good Atrichum undulatum’s image of capsule from Encyclopedia of Life

• 2016 research paper from The National Center for Biotechnology  on features of A. undulatum, a desiccation-tolerant plant in drought conditions, which are an increasingly important limitation on plant productivity worldwide

• Interesting collective research paper on successful establishing the Catherine’s moss in in vitro conditions from University of Belgrade, University of Cologne and University of Bonn

• Literary reference – mostly for moss gardeners:

1.) In ‘The Magical World of Moss Gardening’  by Annie Martin on page 105 the author says that ‘Atrichum undulatum can be aggressive, with rapid growth achieving full coverage in six month to a year […]. She recommends this species for stone path or patios, because even with the plants going through normal rusty brown stage, the new growth is always lush and vigorous.

2.) George Schenk concurs in his 1997 book ‘Moss Gardening. Including Lichens, Liverworts and Other Miniatures’. On page 83 he writes that even after the soil was poisoned by chemical killers of weeds and grass (like Roundup) ‘the invaluable carpeting moss Polytrichum, and also Pohlia and Atrichum, are especially apt as first comers in soil cleared by poisoning’. Sadly, he recommends such poisoning as ground preparation for growing mosses, although ‘as chemically-shy gardener, I do so with some reluctance’, he adds… To his credit his ‘second method is the establishing of a moss carpet by encouraging mosses already present […], on p. 84. Hopefully now, 20 years after the book’s publication, the second method is what an environmentally conscious gardener would choose.

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Polytrichum commune • Common haircap moss

Familia: Polytrichaceae  →  Genus: Polytrichum  → Species: Polytrichum commune

Genus name: Polytrichum  (Polytrichaceae) スギゴケ属 • sugi goke  (literally: cryptomeria moss)

About genus: Polytrichum mosses are called called haircap moss or hair moss (also called pigeon wheat mosses, per Encyclopedia Britannica). They often form large mats in peat bogs, old fields, and areas with high soil acidity. The Polytrichum is distributed globally, contains between 40-100 species, with about 10 species found in North America.

Scientific name is derived from the Ancient Greek words polys, meaning “many”, and thrix, meaning “hair” – so it gets its name from the hairs that cover, or cap, the calyptra where each spore case is held.

Species description: Polytrichum commune •  ウ マスギゴケ • Osugi goke  (literally: Great cryptomeria moss).  In Japan it grows on Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu.

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2/4/17 – Polytrichum commune – wiry green stems with long stiff leaves, also brown old ones

Also known as common haircap, great golden maidenhair, great goldilocks, common haircap moss, or common hair moss. It is the most widely distributed species of the genus, found in many regions with high humidity and rainfall.

It is a medium to large moss – the erect stems are most typically 5 to 10 cm height, but can be as short as 2 cm or as long as 70 cm, with pointed leaves arranged spirally around the stem. It is dark green in color, but becomes brownish with age. The stems can occur in either loose or quite dense tufts, often forming extensive colonies.

Habitat: Preferring to live in lightly shaded areas with moist slightly acidic soil, P. commune can also survive in areas of full sunlight provided the soil is moist.  The Common Hair Cap Moss can also grow in areas of poor soil and slow drainage.

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SJG • 4/22/16 – P. commune on the back of machiai, Area W – note its conspicuous height

Distribution: One of the most common plants found around the world, Polytrichum commune grows natively on almost every continent, in a diversity of habitats , even in Africa, where it occurs in forest, grassland and savanna (see the link below for the Pretoria National Herbarium write-up).

There are 4 species of Polytrichum growing in WA state – P. commune, P. juniperinum, P. strictum, P. piliferum and 3 related Polytrichaceae mosses – Polytrichastrum alpinium, P. sexangulare , P. formosum.

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SJG • 4/22/16 – close up of the above photo on the back of the machiai

The last two mosses used to be classified as polytrichum, and Polytrichastrum alpinium was Pogonatum alpinum prior to being placed in Polytrichiastrum, although it was originally placed in Polytrichum by Hedwig (upon whose work moss classification was based in the early 1800’s). The classification continues to be fluid: […] The genus Polytrichastrum was separated from Polytrichum in 1971 based on the structure of the peristome (which controls spore release). However, molecular and morphological data from 2010 support moving some species back into Polytrichum […] (wikipedia)

SJG notes: Common haircap moss grows in many places in the Seattle Japanese Garden – mostly in the Tea House Garden (area W), but tall and dense colonies also appear in Areas Z, S and along the East path.

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SJG • 11/8/16 – P. Commune under the tree in Area W -when its brown to reddish-brown capsules are present, the moss appears to bloom

One of the showiest mosses with a distinct appearance, P. commune is easy to spot in our garden: it is our tallest moss that grows upright, have dark green and wiry stems and long, stiff leaves.

There are many quite poetic descriptions of that moss in the bryo-literature (star-like, fireworks, etc.), but as seen from the path in the SJG it is mostly its height that is noted + very distinctive brownish ‘bloom’ when the sporophytes are present (about half of the year).

The Japanese culture has about the longest history of appreciating the world of mosses since they naturally occurred around the shrines and temples some 10 centuries ago. The monks/priests not only let the mosses stay as part of the natural environment, but soon also took upon themselves making the mosses welcome by clearing them from debris and fallen leaves.

Sugi goke moss became one of the most prized mosses in the gardens and temples because to the Japanese eyes the moss looked like a mini-cryptomeria (Japanese Cedar) – a beloved since primordial times tree known as “sugi”, which to this day is the national tree of Japan.

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SJG • 10/18/16 – P. Commune around the tree stump in W

The cryptomeria tree was exceptionally important in the ancient Japanese society  as a building material but also for its spiritual meaning.  Both traditional and modern Japanese culture highly regards natural objects: the Shinto religion represented a connection between man and nature and tall trees had a special import – Japanese cedars are found at the center of many Shinto shrines.

As for the Sugi tree’s mini-counterpart, for the most Japanese people it’s simply a short (sugi goke) or a tall/great (Osugi goke) cryptomeria moss.  According to western taxonomy there are, in fact, about 4 or 5 different species of polytrichum moss commonly named sugi: some short, some tall, depending what type of moss naturally grows in that part of Japan (they all look very similar).

Luckily for us, the Seattle Japanese Garden has only two of those mosses, so no confusion: P. commune works as the tall cryptomeria (Osugi goke), and P. juniperinum works as the short cryptomeria (sugi goke). Years ago our gardeners purposely cultivated P. commune to strategically plant it around the garden, and now there are new plans to do so again, as the colonies became somewhat destroyed with time.

Polish genus name: płonnik

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References and related reading:

• Good general write-up of the P. commune from the Toronto, Canada, Tree of Life web project

• Interesting comparison of P. commune and P. juniperinum (we have BOTH in SJG) from Ontario, Canada, borealforest. org

• Pictures and descriptions of P. commune from NatureSpot in England

• Ohio university good write-up on P. commune

• Notes from Pretoria National Herbarium describe how in southern Africa P. commune frequently grows on gravelly soil and steep banks of road cuts, and on soil among grass along stream banks – from Limpopo, to KwaZulu-Natal, to Swaziland and Lesotho

• Tour of mosses at Yakushima’s Shiratani Unsuikyo, Japan: different mosses featured on the hike through forest there, but a very clear photo of P. commune, including its sporophytes and gametophytes; + bonus – a clear diagram illustrating the lifecycle of bryophytes

• Literary reference: ‘Gathering moss, A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses‘ by Robin Wall Kimmerer has a chapter titled ‘Binding up the wounds: mosses in ecological succession’, in which the author describes how Polytrichum somehow attached itself atop of thirty feet deep tailings and iron mine waste that created a Sahara in the middle of green Adirondacks. Little by little a carpet of Polytrichum mosses attracted and kept other seeds, and with help of rain and time a small grove of aspens now stands in this formerly desolate place. The trees brought birds and the birds brought berries…

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Dicranum howellii • Howell’s dicranum moss

Familia: Dicranaceae  → Genus: Dicranum  → Species: Dicranum howellii

Genus name: Dicranum • シッポゴケ属 • shippo goke (literally: tail moss)

Dicranum mosses are called wind-blown mosses or fork mosses. These mosses form densely packed clumps. Dicranum is distributed globally, with different species (about 90 total) endemic to different parts of the world.

There are 70+ different dicranum species (including varieties) growing in Japan, but not Dicranum howelii, which is endemic only to west coast of North America.

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Dicranum howellii • 1/1//2017

Description: Dicranum howellii is an acrocarpous (having an upright growth habit) plant, which grows in open to crowded clumps of erect shoots, shiny, green or green with yellow tones. Stems are 2-8 cm tall and rhizoids pale to russet.

Leaves range from curved and pointing to one side of the stem to straight and upright, occasionally curled and twisted a little, lance-shaped, not wavy, the leaf tip acute.

Habitat: Decaying wood, humus, soil, occasionally bogs.

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SJG • 3/26/16 – bright clumps of Dicranum on the corner of Area Z (above and L of grate)

Distribution: Howell’s dicranum moss occurs only in the northwestern part of North America; endemic in AK, BC, WA, CA, ID and MT. There are 11 species of Dicranum in WA state, the neighboring WA Park Arboretum has also Dicranum tauricum.

SJG notes:

• Dicranum howellii in Seattle Japanese Garden grows in rather small clumps; usually appearing as a distinctive bright green spot among other mosses on the ground or near the tree stumps.

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SJG • 3/26/16 – Dicranum in Z upclose

Color is not a good indicator for identifying mosses, but in winter, spring and late fall Dicranum howellii is easily spotted around SJG because of its unusual glossy green appearance, comparing to other mosses: if you look at it closer at and find it ‘fury’ or ‘hairy’ you are probably looking at Dicranum howellii. In summer it takes yellowish tint and it’s much harder to spot.

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1/1/17: Dicranum scoparium (L) and howellii (R)

So far it’s the only species of dicranum found in our Garden, but check the picture of potted D. howellii (from our garden) side by side with D. scoparium (sample form elsewhere) to see how green our SJG’s D. howellii is.

Polish genus name: widłoząb

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References & Related Reading:

Montana Field Guide shows not only classification but also has a description plus habitat information, distribution & a discussion about reproduction.

iNaturalist.org has a good description of Dicranum howellii and a comparison to Dicranum scoparium.

The Flora of North America has a description as well as a very nice distribution map and an illustration of Dicranum howellii.

• To learn about molecular biology and genetics of Dicranum genus go to BioOne.org.

Literary reference: ‘Gathering moss, A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses‘ by Robin Wall Kimmerer has a chapter called ‘Sexual Asymmetry and the Satellite Sister’ about dicranum: a fascinating story about the sharp difference between size of Dicranum males and females, resulting in avoiding competition and favoring specialization instead, for the survival of the species and for the benefit of the moss-babies. In a compelling way Kimmerer wrote about resulting de facto matriarchy among Dicranum species, where females dominate all aspects of life and where the spores come to life without a gender, capable of becoming and living its life as a male or a female, solely determined by where the spore lands: if it drifts on an unoccupied space it will grow to be a new full-size female, but if it’s blown into a patch of same species Dicranum, it will get trapped there to develop as a captive, dwarf male.

• Commercial uses: Note sure why, but Dicranum moss (regardless of species) is often called a ‘mood moss’ by florists, terrarium builders and others who encounter moss in a non-scientific, but otherwise intimate manner. The site Commercial Moss Harvest in PNW doesn’t mention Dicranum but has interesting info about moss harvesting.

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