Andreaea nivalis

Ruth is again responsible for today’s write-up:

I’m in a bryophytes course this term, and as I harvest knowledge from some of the most reputable human sources in the world I will be passing it on to you, the lucky reader. Bryophytes (mosses, hornworts and liverworts) are a group of plants that people rarely consider. In an urban environment, their presence is easily unnoticed unless they have claimed your front door or stone walkway as their own.

Without a microscope, this species looks like little green cushions or tufts on rock surfaces, preferably granite. They get a lot more interesting when put under a microscope or electron micrograph. This picture is one my lab partner Carolina Chanis took of Andreaea nivalis leaves under 10x magnification. Thanks Caro!

The Andreaeidae are commonly referred to as the granite mosses or lantern mosses. The lantern reference is due to the dried sporangium shape. Thanks to Shona Ellis for putting together this course website and supplying some awesome electron micrograph pictures of the sporangium of Andreaea nivalis as a complement to today’s photograph of a leaf.

The gametophyte, or the haploid generation responsible for growth, is the green leafy part we typically associate with mosses, though in this species it can even be red-brown or black. When mature and ready to disperse spores, the sporangium dehisces along four or five lines to allow wind and water access. Also, the columella, or point in the centre of the sporangium, depresses to push out the sporangium wall and allow dehiscence. The genus Andreaea and Andreaeobryum are the only two genera within the subclass Andreaeideae. Members of the Andreaeidae tend to be found in mountainous and arctic regions of the world.

I hope you are intrigued as I have many more pictures, and I am becoming a wealth of information on these little cuties (midterm approaching).

Andreaea nivalis

15 responses to “Andreaea nivalis”

  1. deodasher

    Yikes, this plant looks just like the wild radish.

  2. Melinde

    I have just the arctic walkway (in New Hampshire) for these if I could only find someplace to acquire them.

  3. Daniel Mosquin

    Thanks deodasher, corrected. Clearly my mind was on my two-week vacation starting tomorrow.

  4. Meg Bernstein

    Very intriguing, would love to see more.

  5. Norm Jensen

    Unfortunately, Melinde, one does not acquire mosses, for the most part. They tend to be very fussy and needy as far as where they will grow, and when. You might want to get a copy of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book, Gathering Moss. It’s a wonderful introduction to mosses, not at all technical, written by a person clearly in love with them. The chapter about the rich man’s attempt to “acquire” mosses for his new estate illustrates the difficulties involved.

  6. Caroline

    There’s actually a moss nursery in PA called “Moss Acres” – they have an interesting website, just google them. I’m not affiliated in any way with them, I just read about their company recently and thought it seemed like a really cool idea. Actually, while I was just googling for the name of the PA moss company, I found another one in NC that does “moss rescue”! Mountain Moss Enterprises. Just thought I would share the fruits of my googling. 🙂

  7. Ann Young

    Fascinating to see what the microscope sees!
    Send more!! Thanks

  8. deodasher

    I can hardly blame you…enjoy your vacation.
    Cool micrograph.

  9. elizabeth a airhart

    is this why a rolling stone gathers no moss
    have a fine vacation make no mistake about that
    happy valentines day
    my love is like a red red rose

  10. CherriesWalks

    What does it look like not under the microscope? Any photos of the plant ‘au naturel’?

  11. Bobbie

    I am a lucky reader today. This article was sooo interesting and really made me think. I live in eastern Texas, USA where the soils are very acidic and the “rocks” are all sandstone. I find mosses that look much like these growing on them and wonder if they are the same.
    I’ve tried growning mosses in my garden with little deliberate luck, but a lot of accidental luck. lol! I book I like Moss Gardening, by George Schenk, would be good for amateurs like me.

  12. pradeep p damle

    hey is it a microscopic image or the does the plant itself look like that

  13. Shona Ellis

    Thanks Ruth for sharing this picture. The preparation was actually made by Dr. Wilf Schofield many years ago as a class demonstration slide. It is from a perigonial (male) shoot. You can see the perigonial leaves with a couple of hairs (dare we call them paraphyses?) and antheridia (sperm producing structures). The obvious one is immature, but you can see a larger fully developed one nestled in the leaves.

  14. SoapySophia

    it almost looks like some sort of insect wing, or even and insect itself! amazing and weird and adorable all at the same time! can’t wait to keep exploring our huge world!

  15. PaleoEbot Lisa

    Here is a wonderful book that will appeal not just to moss-ophiles but to plant naturalists in general: “Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses”, Oregon State University Press, 2003. The author, Robin Wall Kimmerer, is a Native American botanist/ecologist with a special affection for mosses. Her unique blend of science and tradition results in an engaging personal narrative of her decades-long exploration of these tiny plants and what she’s learned about them. Nice line drawings of plants and structures are scattered throughout the text.

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