Freitag, 4. Januar 2013

Plant of the Day (January 4th, 2013) - Hypnum cupressiforme Hedw. s. str.

Happy New Year, everybody.

Winter is a good time to write and post some Articles about Lichen and Mosses, because these plants are not affected directly by the harsh climate outside and can also be found them during the cold months abundantly. So, after my Article about Tortula ruralis and Grimmia pulvinata it's time for another article about a moss. This species is Hypnum cupressiforme Hedw. s. str. from the Hypnaceae family. In German, this species is known as “Zypressen-Schlafmoos” while common English names are “cypress-leafed moss” or simply “Hypnum”

H. cupressiforme  - on a bark

The branches of the Gametophyte are about 10 centimeters long with about 1 centimeter long sub-branches Apart from this, the Gametophyte is very rich in forms. Sometimes, it grows in lush and dense branched turfs, sometimes the branches are growing parallel to each other. The habitus also depends on the growing place. Plants on rocks or bollards normally grow in dense turfs, while on barks, H. cupressiforme grows in parallel hanging filaments. It's also possible, than one plant grows in different forms at the same time (e. g. while hanging at a bark and growing on a branch of a tree at the same time).

H. cupressiforme - sporophyte

The leaflets are between one and two millimeters long. They are curved and folded at their apex, what results in a sharp, narrow tip. All leaflets have two leaf-veins but in contrast to other mosses, these leaf veins are very short. Their margin is smooth throughout.

Leaves and branches of H. cupressiforme can also vary greatly in color, what makes an determination for beginners even more difficult. The spectrum ranges from a yellowish green to a grass green or a dark green. The color depends on humidity, environment and substrate.

H. cupressiforme  - on a wall

The Seta of the Sporophyte is between 1 and 3 centimeters long. The capsules with the spores have a brown to reddish brown colour. They are often nodding and have a short but distinct beak. The ripening of the spores is between Winter and Spring.

H. cupressiforme  - a closer look on the sporophyte, where
you can see more details: C = Capsule; B = Beak; S = Seta

H. cupressiforme is a cosmopolitan and one of the worlds most common mosses. It grows on barks, cobblestones, snags, walls and even on the pure soil between sea level and nearly 3.500 meters. It's also indifferent towards the soil and grows on acid and basic soils equally.

In former times, some people believe, that the branches of the Gametophyte have a soporific effect and so, H. cupressiforme was used to cure insomnia. For this purpose, plants were dried and stuffed into pillows instead of downs, what is also the reason for the name of the genus (“Hypnum” is Latin for “Sleep”).

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