A Nature Watcher's Diary

MOSS Identification...
Plagiomnium cuspidatum
My ID# 20160419.1

This specimen collected from soil of a cut bank along the Ruby Jack Trail west of Carthage, Jasper County, Missouri.
Date: April 19, 2016
Habitat: Ozarks/Prairie ecotonal area alongside an abandoned railroad bed. GPS coordinates: Latitude 37.1804, Longitude -94.3786.

Whole plant picked from plant mass and washed and mounted in glycerine jelly. It measures about 3 centimeters.

Leaf detail at 20x. Length nearly 3 millimeters. Width about 1.5 millimeters. Marginal toothing on distal 1/3 to 1/2 of leaf length. Costa prominent to apex, joining with marginal cells.

1 millimeter scale at 20x.

Same sample photographed in polarized light with partially uncrossed filters. Note prominence of midrib (costa) and marginal cells and teeth.

Same leaf at 50x. Marginal teeth prominently seen. Marginal cells, 2 to 5 rows of them, easily seen along entire margin. Median leaf cells about 20-30 micrometers diameter; round or hexagonal.

Same sample, 100x. Teeth cellular structure seen as 1 or 2 cells. Marginal cells greatly elongated. Median cells seen with chloroplasts.

20 x view of peristome teeth on the end of the capsule. Two rows of 16 teeth are still mostly intact. As the plant ages, these fall off. I suppose you could count these using a hand lens, but your eyes would be much sharper than mine if you could!

Dissection of a capsule reveals some of both layers of peristone teeth.

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My routine to identify a moss consists of five steps:
1. Take good field notes
2. Photograph the sample as soon as possible
3. Make a packet for sample storage
4. Start a computer file to store notes and photographs...this file
5. Dissect, examine, and photograph the moss body parts

My primary reference work is "How to Know the Mosses and Liverworts", by H.S. Conard, 1956.
Several online references were consulted. These were government and university publications, mostly.
For this identification I also consulted "Mosses with a Hand Lens and Microscope", by A.J. Grout.

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