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Exploring the Enigmatic World of Calyptothecium moritzii Moss

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Calliergon_cordifolium_plant.jpg from: https://moss-musings.blogspot.com/2011/09/moss-names-and-taxonomy.html

Exploring the Fascinating World of Calyptothecium moritzii (Hampe) Broth. Moss


Mosses are some of the most ancient and resilient plants on Earth, with over 12,000 species found across the globe. One particularly interesting moss is Calyptothecium moritzii (Hampe) Broth., also known simply as Calyptothecium. This unique moss belongs to the Pterobryaceae family and has some fascinating characteristics. Let’s dive in and learn more about this marvelous little plant!

Background on Mosses

Before we get into the specifics of


Figura-5-Calyptothecium-duplicatulum-a-Aspecto-de-la-planta-b-propagulos-c-d.png from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Figura-5-Calyptothecium-duplicatulum-a-Aspecto-de-la-planta-b-propagulos-c-d_fig3_259175425

C. moritzii, it’s helpful to understand some basics about mosses in general. Mosses are non-vascular plants in the division Bryophyta. They lack true roots, stems, and leaves like other land plants. Instead, they have rhizoids that anchor them and absorb water and nutrients. Mosses reproduce via spores rather than seeds and flowers.

Morphology and Identification

Calyptothecium moritzii forms loose mats or wefts. Its stems can reach


Calyptothecium-acostatum-from-G-S-Miehe-00-63-39-Scale-bar-3-cm_Q640.jpg from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353752612_Contributions_to_the_moss_families_Neckeraceae_and_Pterobryaceae_of_Bhutan

3-5 cm long. The leaves are ovate-lanceolate and have a distinctly sheathing base that clasps the stem. The leaf margins are entire (smooth-edged). Capsules are cylindrical and borne on 2-4 cm long setae


maxresdefault.jpg from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9qyeiMh2WE

One of the most identifiable features is the calyptra – the protective covering over the young capsule. In C. moritzii, the calyptra is large, inflated, and completely covers the capsule, hence the genus name which means “hidden capsule.” The calyptra is often golden-colored.


calytra-still-on-capsule-of-moss-on-bark-FT-Barbara-Peck-1024×731.jpg from: https://shasta-cnps.org/beginning-bryophytes/

Global Distribution and Habitat

C. moritzii has a pantropical distribution, found in tropical regions around the world including Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. It typically grows as an epiphyte on tree trunks and branches in moist, shady forests from lowlands to


Calyptothecium-urvilleanum-Mue-llHal-Broth-A-Habit-B-Branch-C-D-Stem-leaves.png from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Calyptothecium-urvilleanum-Mue-llHal-Broth-A-Habit-B-Branch-C-D-Stem-leaves_fig3_293646589

2000 m in elevation. It seems to prefer humid habitats with high rainfall.

Ecological Roles and Adaptations

Like other mosses, Calyptothecium plays important ecological roles:

  • Helps retain moisture and prevent erosion
  • Provides shelter and habitat for micro-organisms and insects
  • Pioneers on bare substrates and aids in soil formation

C. moritzii has several adaptations for its epiphytic lifestyle and tropical habitat:


t019e6f3d356382a2da.jpg from: https://baike.so.com/gallery/list?ghid=first&pic_idx=1&eid=4512119&sid=4721925

Characteristic Description
Stem length


medium.jpeg from: https://enciclovida.mx/especies/147326

3-5 cm
Leaf shape Ovate-lanceolate with sheathing base
Leaf margin Entire (smooth-edged)
Capsule shape Cylindrical
Seta length 2-4 cm
Calyptra Large, inflated, golden, completely covering capsule
Habitat Epiphytic in moist tropical forests
Elevation range 0-2000 m


Calyptothecium moritzii is a prime example of how even tiny mosses can be captivating when you take a closer look. Its unique morphology and adaptations allow it to thrive in its tropical habitat and play key ecological roles.
The next time you’re in a tropical forest, take a moment to appreciate the mosses clothing the trees – you just might spot the golden calyptras of Calyptothecium shining in the dappled sunlight! What other secrets of the forest floor are waiting to be uncovered?


gl_musgos_02_30102017.jpg from: https://ciencia.unam.mx/contenido/galeria/161/galeria-diversidad-de-musgos-de-mexico-mas-alla-de-la-navidad

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