| |

Discover the Enchanting World of Tetrastichium fontanum (Mitt.) Cardot

Affiliate Disclaimer: As an affiliate, we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase from any of the links on this page at no additional cost to you!


medium.jpeg from: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/917748-Tetrastichium-fontanum


In the vast and captivating world of bryophytes, one particular moss species stands out for its unique charm and ecological significance – the Tetrastichium fontanum (Mitt.) Cardot. Belonging to the Leucomiaceae family, this delicate yet resilient moss is commonly referred to as Tetrastichium. Let’s embark on an engaging journey to unravel the secrets of this fascinating plant.


Before we delve into the intricacies of Tetrastichium fontanum, it’s essential to understand the broader context of bryophytes. These non-vascular plants, which include mosses, liverworts, and hornworts, are often overlooked but play a crucial role in various ecosystems. They are among the oldest land plants on Earth, dating back to the Paleozoic era, and have adapted to thrive in diverse environments.

Main Content

Morphology and Identification

Tetrastichium fontanum is a small, acrocarpous moss that forms dense, cushion-like tufts or mats. Its slender stems are typically less than 2 cm tall, and the leaves are arranged in a spiral pattern. The leaves are narrow, lanceolate, and have a distinctive


Breutelia_azorica_02_DSCN2763.jpg from: http://azoresbioportal.uac.pt/pt/especies-dos-acores/breutelia-azorica-12085/


4360bb46ff9f227251b32ae801dc9d987bc5f2a4 from: https://identify.plantnet.org/weurope/observations/1017635709

costa (midrib) that extends beyond the leaf apex, forming a short awn or hair-like projection. This unique feature aids in identifying the species.

Global Distribution and Habitat


cerastium-fontanum7.jpg from: https://www.uksouthwest.net/wildflowers/caryophyllaceae/cerastium-fontanum7.html

Tetrastichium fontanum is widely distributed across various regions, including Europe, Asia, North America, and parts of South America. It thrives in moist, shaded environments, often found growing on damp soil, rocks, or tree bases in forests, stream banks, and other wetland areas. This moss prefers cool, humid conditions and is commonly associated with calcareous substrates.


cerastium_fontanum_2.jpg from: https://delawarewildflowers.org/plant.php?id=0454

Ecological Roles and Adaptations

Despite its diminutive size, Tetrastichium fontanum plays a vital role in its ecosystem. As a pioneer species, it helps stabilize and enrich soils, creating favorable conditions for other plants to establish themselves. Additionally, its dense mats provide microhabitats for various invertebrates, contributing to biodiversity.


bturf.jpg from: https://batrach.myspecies.info/file-colorboxed/3

One of the remarkable adaptations of Tetrastichium fontanum is its ability to withstand desiccation. During dry periods, the moss can enter a state of dormancy, curling up its leaves to minimize water loss. Once moisture returns, it quickly revives, demonstrating its resilience in challenging environments.

Case Studies/Examples

In a study conducted in the Pacific Northwest region of North America, researchers found Tetrastichium fontanum to be a valuable indicator species for assessing the health of riparian ecosystems. Its presence and abundance were closely linked to the quality of water sources and the overall integrity of the surrounding habitat.

Technical Table


C0015357-Smooth_spleenwort_Asplenium_fontanum_.jpg from: https://www.sciencephoto.com/media/79759/view/smooth-spleenwort-asplenium-fontanum-


401_foto_Pfl_wikipedia_user_johan_n_asplenium_fontanum.jpg from: https://www.pflanzen-deutschland.de/Asplenium_fontanum.html


fc4130a89cf082006b625f6c0bf4e3ba.jpg from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/asplenium-fontanum–712624341013420503/

Characteristic Description
Phylum Bryophyta


06-17p05moss.jpg from: https://www.nawwal.org/~mrgoff/photojournal/2006/sum/06-17p05moss.html

Class Bryopsida
Order Leucodontales
Family Leucomiaceae
Genus Tetrastichium
Species Tetrastichium fontanum (Mitt.) Cardot
Common Name Tetrastichium moss
Growth Form Acrocarpous, cushion-like tufts or mats
Leaf Arrangement Spiral
Leaf Shape Narrow, lanceolate
Distinctive Feature Costa extending beyond leaf apex as a short awn or hair-like projection


Tetrastichium fontanum (Mitt.) Cardot, a humble yet remarkable moss species, serves as a testament to the incredible diversity and resilience of bryophytes. Its ability to thrive in moist environments, stabilize soils, and provide microhabitats for other organisms highlights the intricate web of life that exists even in the smallest of ecosystems. As we continue to explore and appreciate the wonders of nature, let us ponder this thought-provoking question: How can we better protect and conserve these often-overlooked yet vital components of our planet’s biodiversity?

Similar Posts