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Natural Perspective

The Plant Kingdom: Polytrichum (Haircaps)

(Last modified: 13 May 2000)
[photo: moss]

[icon: moss] The Haircap Mosses (genus Polytrichum) provide a good starting point for those wanting to enter the world of mosses. The green plants (gametophytes) are easily identified by their stout, upright posture and leathery leaves.

The sporophytes are also a treat, with capsules substantially bigger than other mosses. The young capsules wear a calyptra (capsule cover) as if it were a mop-head of hair, only to lose their hair as they mature.

At other times, you may find the male plants topped with pretty flower-like structures (below) formed by the antheridia (sexual organs).

Phylum: Bryophyta (mosses)
Class: Bryopsida =Musci (True Mosses)
Order: Polytrichales
Family: Polytrichaceae
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