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Exploring Callicostella africana Mitt.: A Fascinating Moss from Sub-Saharan Africa

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Exploring the Fascinating World of Callicostella africana Mitt. Moss


Mosses are often overlooked, but they play crucial roles in ecosystems around the world. One particularly interesting species is


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Callicostella africana Mitt., a moss in the Pilotrichaceae family. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the details of this fascinating plant, from its morphology to its ecological importance. Get ready to discover the hidden world of Callicostella!


Callicostella africana Mitt. is a species of moss classified in the Bryophyta division and Bryopsida class. The genus Callicostella contains around 90 species found in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. C. africana was first described by the British bryologist William Mitten in 1863 based on specimens collected in Africa, hence its species name “africana“.

Morphology and Identification

Callicostella africana forms dense mats with creeping stems and erect branches. The leaves are ovate to oblong-lanceolate, often with a short double costa (midrib). A key identifying feature is the papillose leaf cells – they have tiny protrusions that give the leaves a rough texture. Sporophytes are common, with smooth setae and inclined, asymmetric capsules.

Global Distribution and Habitat

This moss has a wide distribution across sub-Saharan Africa, as well as islands in the western Indian Ocean like Madagascar and Réunion. It grows on various substrates including soil, rocks, tree trunks and rotten logs in moist, shaded habitats from lowland to montane tropical forests. The map below shows countries where C. africana has been recorded:


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Region Countries
West Africa Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe
Central Africa Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda
East Africa Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda
Southern Africa Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Indian Ocean Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion

Ecological Roles and Adaptations

Like other mosses, Callicostella africana plays important roles in its forest habitats:


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C. africana


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shows adaptations to its moist, shady habitats. The papillose leaf cells help it efficiently absorb and retain water. It can also tolerate low light conditions on the dim forest floor.


Callicostella africana


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may be small, but it’s a fascinating and ecologically valuable moss. From tropical African forests to Indian Ocean islands, this species works tirelessly in the understory, recycling nutrients, retaining moisture, and sheltering tiny creatures.


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Next time you’re in a tropical forest, take a closer look – maybe you’ll spot the intricate green mats of Callicostella! What other secrets do you think these miniature ecosystems hold?

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