NJ Moss notes

This is very rough and tentative; I am by no means a moss expert.

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First off, there are three main classes of moss commonly seen in NJ:

  • Sphagnum (Sphagnopsida)
  • Haircap / Smoothcap (Polytrichum/Atrichum) (Polytrichopsida)
  • Everybody else (Bryopsida)

So, if you learn the first two, you can label everything else "Bryopsida" and be fairly confident.
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Sphagnum moss

  • Wet ground
  • Central star of short branches above whirl of longer branches
  • can be several inches "tall" and are actually even longer but buried in debris.
  • often look wet and squishy or wooly
  • often light green or reddish
  • whorl generally under 1 inch diameter


a sphagnum moss


a sphagnum moss


a sphagnum moss which has been knocked on its side
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Haircap and Smoothcap (Polytrichum / Polytrichastrum and Atrichum)

  • Look like little stars
  • Haircap when dry fold upward like little paint brush tips
  • Smoothcap when dry crinkle into tight, squiggly clumps
  • Haircap have longer, narrower leaves and can be several inches tall
  • Smoothcap have broader leaves and are rarely more than an inch high if that.


Haircap (moist) narrow stars


Smoothcap (moist) broad-leaved stars


Haircap (dry) leaves fold up


Smoothcap (dry) leaves crumple and crinkle inward

Note that Thyme Moss (Plagiomnium cuspidatum) can also look star-like at the tips of the stalks, but the leaves are even broader, oval shaped, and the stems have oval shaped leaves not in whorls.


Thyme moss (not in the haircap/smoothcap group)

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Everybody Else (Bryopsida)

These are roughly in the order in which I learned them.

Delicate Fern Moss (Thuidium delicatulum)

  • very common in woods
  • tapered from base to tip in a long triangle
  • has side branches, so looks "twice compound" like a fern
  • side branches are somewhat loose and messy


Delicate fern moss

a few mosses can be confused with it. Brocade is common, but each stem looks rolled in at the edges. Redstem Feather is very uncommon and much looser.

Brocade Moss (Callicladium imponens)

  • common in woods
  • tapered from base to tip in a triangle
  • each side branch has leaves neatly rolled under
  • tips of side branches lighter
  • looks like it was embroidered, very tight and tidy


Brocade moss

Cushion moss (Leucobryum glaucum)

  • grows in clumps
  • light colored, often blue-green
  • leaves are elongated and look succulent
  • common in woods
  • another species, white moss (Leucobryum albidum) is less common but present


Cushion moss


a big patch of cushion moss

Silvery Bryum (Bryum argentium)

  • the sidewalk-crack moss
  • leaves so tiny the whole moss looks velvety
  • sometimes grayish but can be green or red-brown
  • can grow away from pavement but likes rock and poor soil


Silvery Bryum

a similar moss, but much less common, in similar situations, but with longer leaves is:
Redshank (Ceratodon purpureus)


Redshank (you can see individual leaves)

Thyme moss (Plagiomnium cuspidatum)

  • oval leaves alternate along stem
  • somewhat transluscent
  • leaves have definite midvein and a sharp tip


Thyme moss

Tree Moss (Climacium americanum et al.) There are several species in our area, hard to separate

  • big for a moss, like 3 inches tall
  • long, inch-long, branches in loose whorls
  • small leaves mostly appressed to the branchlet
  • not too common, wood edge


tree moss

Bristle moss (Orthotrichum stellatum et al.) There are several species in our area, hard to separate

  • grows on tree branches
  • round clumps
  • like little stars
  • "fruit" are oval and among the leaves (technically the capsule of the sporophyte)


Bristle moss

This is very commonly mixed up with crisped pincushion moss (Ulota crispa) which is a more northern species and has its "fruit" in elongated capsules that stick up well above the leaves


Crisped pincushion

Fork moss (Dicranum sp.)

  • looks brushed to one side
  • long, silky looking leaves
  • forest floor or boulders (two different species)
  • grows in clumps


Fork moss

Tree skirt moss (Pseudoanomodon attenuatus)

  • grows on the base of trees (or sometimes elsewhere)
  • grows down and spreads outward
  • new growth looks like little lighter colored balls at the tips of branches


Tree skirt moss


Tree skirt moss

Note that other mosses also grow on tree bases.
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Other, more challenging mosses:

There are lots of other mosses in NJ that are either less common or more challenging to ID.

Rock mosses (Grimiaceae) are dark mosses in clumps on boulders.


an example of a rock moss (the yellow-green is not)

Bladder moss (Physcomitrium pyriforme) grows in disturbed soil and has very round "fruit" (sporophyte capsules) on little stems above a clump of velvety-looking moss


Bladder moss

Apple moss is much the same, but with long, silky leaves, and "fruit" on droopy stems


Apple moss

Seductive Entodon moss (Entodon seductrix) has long, smooth branches with leaves tightly appressed all the way around, like tiny ropes (It also has the weirdest name of any common moss, someone spent way too long in the lab!)


Seductive Entodon moss

Spoon leaved moss (Bryoandersonia illecebra) is similar but grows upward and the leaves are not as tight to the stems. The tips are light. This is an extremely common species in the woods by me


Spoon-leaved moss

Pocket moss (Fissidens taxifolius) is a neat little moss that likes wet and looks like someone ironed tiny Cristmas tree branches.


Pocket moss

Plait moss (Hypnum cupressiforme et al.) are several messy looking forest floor mosses that I never try to actually ID. they look something like this


Probably a Plait moss

Branch moss (Callicladium haldanianum) is another messy moss that I can't ID. It's shiny.


Probably branch moss

Lindberg's hypnum (Calliergonella lingbergii) is another messy moss, more spreading in the leaves. I can't ID it, either


probably Lindberg's hypnum

Red-stem feather moss (Pleurozium schreberi) is another messy moss, but it has a distinct red stem at least


Red-stem feather moss

And hoar moss (Hedwigia ciliata) is a cute little bristly-looking clumping moss of boulders (and old roof shingles) that I've just learned


Hoar moss
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For those of you into the taxonomy of it all, the Bryopsidas here fall into 6 orders:

  • Hypnales
  • Dicranales
  • Bryales
  • Orthotrichales
  • Funariales
  • Hedwigiales

Hypnales is the most complex, with 7 families:

  • Bracytheciaceae (spoon leaved moss)
  • Hypnaceae (branch moss, brocade moss, red stem feather moss)
  • Neckeraceae (tree skirt moss)
  • Thuidiaceae (fern moss)
  • Entodontaceae (seductive Entodon)
  • Climaciaceae (tree moss)
  • Pylaisiaceae (Lindberg's Hypnum)

Dicranales has 4 families:

  • Dicranaceae (fork moss)
  • Leucobryaceae (cushion)
  • Ditrichaceae (redshank)
  • Fissidentaceae (pocket moss)

Bryales has 2 families:

  • Mniaceae (thyme moss)
  • Bryaceae (silvery Bryum)

Orthotrichales has one

  • Orthotrichaceae (bristle moss, crisp pincushion moss)

Funariales has one

  • Funariaceae (bladder moss)

and Hedwigiales has one

  • Hedwigiaceae (hoar moss)
Publicado el 13 de enero de 2024 a las 06:50 PM por srall srall

Comentarios

Sara
Thank you for this excellent summary. It is a good starting place for someone like me who is trying to learn more about mosses and lichens.
I lived in Hunterdon County for a couple of decades and am now in Montgomery Co in southeastern PA so I suspect that there will be a significant overlap of species of moss in our two respective areas. (I do regularly follow you posts).
Several questions:

what are you using for your moss photography? Type of camera (DSLR or iPhone with click on macro lens) and if camera, what type of lens?
I have had very few of my moss observations id’d on iNat. (Blue_Marble). Do you have any recommendations to increase the rate of my moss or lichen observations to be id’d?
I have reviewed the archives of your iNat journal posts and did not find a similar post on lichens from you . If one exists, please send me a link. If not, I would encourage you to create one.
Thanks again for your work
Stan Kozakowski
Blue_Marble

Anotado por blue_marble hace 3 meses

Hi Stan @blue_marble, I've been thinking about making a lichen one. I have no idea how to get more moss/lichen (or fungi for that matter) IDs, I wish there were more folks out there making them. I use a Sony Alpha DSLR (on auto everything) with a 55-210 lens which mostly allows me to take the photos without squatting (as my knees are not what they could be).

Anotado por srall hace 3 meses

Sara
Thanks for the information re your camera and lens. Also thanks for IDing my moss posts from yesterday. I was out and about and added more today. It is challenging and like everything else will take some practice. For fungi, there is an excellent FaceBook group Friends of the Philadelphia Mycology Club. They are excellent in providing very timely identifications. I believe that there is also a well know NJ Mycology FaceBook Group that you might find helpful. (The NJ Mycology Association).

I just joined two groups on FaceBook - Ferns, Lichens, and Mosses AND Lichen Identification. I will see how helpful they are.
Stan @blue_marble

Anotado por blue_marble hace 3 meses

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