Moss ID Links
ID1 (Intro to Plants)
ID3 (Life Cycle)
ID5 (Books & Gear)
ID9 (peculiar Sphagnum)
ID10 (peculiar Atrichum)
ID11 (peculiar Fissidens)
ID12. (Key Overview)
ID13 (Platygyrium start)
ID14 (Platygyrium finish)
ID15 (Funaria start)
ID16 (Funaria finish)
ID17 (Orthotrichum start)
ID18 (Orthotrichum finish)
ID19 (OH Atlas & FQAI)
ID20. (Plag. cusp.)
ID21 (Ambl. vari., Anom. Atte.)
ID22 (Plat. repe., Ento. sedu.)
ID23 (Cera. purp., Anom. rost.)
ID24 (Clim. amer., Thui. deli.)
ID25 (Atri angu.)
INTRODUCTION TO MOSS IDENTIFICATION
3. Moss Life Cycle
A moss SPORE germinates and develops first into a green mass of thin threads called the PROTONEMA. It resembles a filamentous green alga. For most mosses, the protonema is a short-lived transitional form that gives rise to the GAMETOPHYTES. A few mosses have a persistent protonema.
Pogonatum pensylvanicum (shown above), common during autumn on moist exposed banks, has a peristent protonema that can be seen as the greenish covering on the ground between the much reduced gametophytes with their attached sporophytes.
At the ends of some branches, clusters of tiny GAMETANGIA (gamete-producing structures) develop, overtopped by the surrounding leaves. The male (sperm-producing) gametangia are sac-like structures called ANTHERIDIA, each of which produces many SPERM. The female ARCHEGONIA are flask-shaped with an opening at the top for sperm to enter and a single EGG inside at the bottom.
These moss life cycle drawings are redrawn with slight modification from A Laboratory Manual for Botany by Margaret Balbach and Lawrence Bliss (2002).
Shown below, the moss Orthotrichum pusillum
produces clusters of antheridia (left-hand photo) and archegonia
(right-hand photo) at the ends of separate branches on the same plant
(an arrangement called "autoecious"). These pictures were taken
through a compound microscope at 100X during the 1st week of March.