T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Polytrichum (Genus) Harecap moss

Kingdom:   Plantae
Division:    Bryophyta
Subclass:   Polytrichidae
Family:      Polytrichaceae
Genus:      Polytrichum
Common name: Haircap moss

Mosses in the genus Polytrichum are endohydric, meaning water must be conducted from the base of the plant. While mosses are considered non-vascular plants, those of Polytrichum show clear differentiation of water conducting tissue. One of these water conducting tissues is termed the hydrome, which makes up the central cylinder of stem tissue. It consists of cells with a relatively wide diameter called hydroids, which conduct water. This tissue is analogous to xylem in higher plants. The other tissue is called leptome, which surrounds the hydrome, contains smaller cells and is analogous to phloem.

Another characteristic feature of the genus is its parallel photosynthetic lamellae on the upper surfaces of the leaves. Most mosses simply have a single plate of cells on the leaf surface, but those of Polytrichum have more highly differentiated photosynthetic tissue. This is an example of a xeromorphic adaption, an adaptation for dry conditions. Moist air is trapped in between the rows of lamellae, while the larger terminal cells act to contain moisture and protect the photosynthetic cells. This minimises water loss as relatively little tissue is directly exposed to the environment, but allows for enough gas exchange for photosynthesis to take place. The microenvironment between the lamellae can host a number of microscopic organisms such as parasitic fungi and rotifers. Additionally, the leaves will curve and then twist around the stem when conditions become too dry, this being another xeromorphic adaptation. It is speculated that the teeth along the leaf's edge may aid in this process, or perhaps also that they help discourage small invertebrates from attacking the leaves. Text thanks to Wikipedia

This moss was growing at 650 m in shady confitions.east Tiahape.