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**Discover Orthotrichum Obtusifolium: The Enduring Moss**

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medium.jpeg from: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/165960-Orthotrichum-obtusifolium



The-moss-Orthotrichum-obtusifolium-a-Montenegrin-population-on-the-bark-of-an-elm-tree.png from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The-moss-Orthotrichum-obtusifolium-a-Montenegrin-population-on-the-bark-of-an-elm-tree_fig2_318143375

In the vast and captivating world of bryophytes, one particular moss species stands out for its unique characteristics and ecological significance – the Orthotrichum obtusifolium Brid., commonly known as Orthotrichum. This unassuming yet remarkable moss belongs to the family Orthotrichaceae and has captured the interest of botanists and nature enthusiasts alike.


Before delving into the intricacies of this fascinating moss, it’s essential to understand the broader context in which it thrives. Bryophytes, which include mosses, liverworts, and hornworts, are among the oldest and most primitive land plants on Earth. These resilient organisms have played a crucial role in the colonization of terrestrial environments, paving the way for the evolution of more complex plant life.

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Morphology and Identification

The Orthotrichum obtusifolium Brid. is a small, acrocarpous moss that forms dense, cushion-like tufts or mats. Its leaves are oblong-lanceolate, with a distinctive obtuse or blunt apex, hence the specific epithet “obtusifolium.” The leaves are typically keeled, meaning they have a prominent midrib that creates a ridge along the leaf surface. This feature, along with the presence of stomata (pores) on the leaf surface, aids in gas exchange and water regulation.
One of the most striking characteristics of this moss is its calyptra, a protective cap that covers the developing sporophyte (spore-bearing structure). The calyptra of Orthotrichum obtusifolium Brid. is hairy, with numerous cilia or hair-like projections, giving it a distinctive appearance.

Global Distribution and Habitat

The Orthotrichum obtusifolium Brid. is widely distributed across various regions of the world, including Europe, Asia, North America, and parts of Africa. It thrives in a diverse range of habitats, from temperate to tropical regions, and can be found growing on tree bark, rocks, and even man-made structures like walls and roofs.


c036fb213bd5fa6044470437e0a9484e.jpg from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/orthotrichum-obtusifolium–144255994284252770/

This moss exhibits a remarkable ability to adapt to different environmental conditions, making it a successful colonizer of urban areas. Its tolerance for pollution and ability to withstand desiccation (drying out) contribute to its widespread distribution and ecological resilience.

Ecological Roles and Adaptations

Despite its small size, the Orthotrichum obtusifolium Brid. plays vital roles in various ecosystems. As a pioneer species, it contributes to the formation of soil and the establishment of more complex plant communities. Its dense mats provide microhabitats for other organisms, such as invertebrates and fungi, fostering biodiversity.
Moreover, this moss possesses unique adaptations that enable it to thrive in challenging environments. Its ability to absorb and retain moisture through specialized structures called hyaline hair points allows it to survive periods of drought. Additionally, the presence of phytochemicals in its tissues may confer protection against herbivores and pathogens.

Case Studies/Examples

One notable example of the ecological significance of Orthotrichum obtusifolium Brid. can be found in urban environments. In cities like New York and London, this moss has been observed growing on trees and buildings, contributing to the overall biodiversity and acting as a natural air purifier by absorbing pollutants.

Technical Table


Orth_obt-leavesx10.jpg from: https://blogs.ubc.ca/biology321/?page_id=4886


jd_20140307_113548.jpg from: https://www.diversitasnaturae.be/diversitas-naturae/plantae/bryophyta/bryopsida/orthotrichales/orthotrichaceae/orthotrichum-obtusifolium/


or_obtusifolium8.jpg from: https://wnmu.edu/academic/nspages/gilaflora/orthotrichum_obtusifolium.html


133005_24765775.jpg from: http://www.mikroskopie-forum.de/index.php?topic=17381.0


obtuse-aspen-moss-orthotrichum-obtusifolium.jpg from: https://www.earth.com/plant-encyclopedia/Bryophytes/Orthotrichaceae/orthotrichum-obtusifolium/en/


Orthotrichum-obtusifolium-1-leith-hall-2007_v1.jpg from: https://www.britishbryologicalsociety.org.uk/learning/species-finder/nyholmiella-obtusifolia/


1c.jpg from: https://nathistoc.bio.uci.edu/Mosses/Orthotrichum 2/index.html

Characteristic Description
Family Orthotrichaceae
Genus Orthotrichum
Species obtusifolium Brid.
Growth Form Acrocarpous, cushion-like tufts or mats
Leaf Shape Oblong-lanceolate, obtuse apex
Leaf Features Keeled, with stomata
Calyptra Hairy, with numerous cilia
Distribution Widespread across Europe, Asia, North America, and parts of Africa
Habitat Tree bark, rocks, walls, roofs
Adaptations Tolerance to pollution, desiccation, hyaline hair points, phytochemicals
Ecological Roles Soil formation, microhabitat provision, biodiversity enhancement, air purification


The Orthotrichum obtusifolium Brid., a humble yet remarkable moss, serves as a testament to the resilience and adaptability of bryophytes. Its unique morphological features, global distribution, and ecological roles make it a fascinating subject of study for botanists and nature enthusiasts alike. As we continue to explore and appreciate the intricate web of life on our planet, this unassuming moss reminds us of the importance of preserving biodiversity and the interconnectedness of all living beings.
Ponder this: In a world where urbanization and environmental challenges persist, could the Orthotrichum obtusifolium Brid. hold the key to unlocking new strategies for sustainable living and urban greening?

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