Rhizomnium glabrescens “Fan Moss” Bryales

Deception Pass State Park, Whidbey Island, WA
August 18, 2014
Robert Niese

These mosses are very common in wet forests throughout the western PNW and appear to be particularly fond of rotting logs and rocks. They are a very leafy species of moss and are often mistaken for vascular plants. The star-shaped structures shown here are the sperm-bearing male gametophytes (full of antheridia). This particular arrangement of leaves allows the sperm to splash out of the antheridia whenever it rains. So next time you’re wandering around a wet PNW forest in the rain, I hope you think about moss sex. Learn more about the biology of these mosses here!

Aulacomnium androgynum “Little Grove Moss” Bryales

Missoula, MT
May 13, 2014
Robert Niese

This teensy-tiny moss species is readily identified by its adorable, round, lolly-pop structures known as gemmae. Each gemma is actually a mass of cells that will scatter on the wind or rain to produce a new moss (asexual reproduction). In total, this plant was barely more than 1cm tall! Look for A. adrogynum among pixie cup lichens (Cladonia) on rotting logs in moist-dry coniferous forests here in the Northwest. (ID courtesy of Mandy Slate)