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Pelekium minusculum: The Tiny Moss with a Surprisingly Big Story

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Cyrto-hypnum_minutulum_M16033_1590670888_lg.jpg from: https://www.gbif.org/es/species/2679363

Pelekium minusculum: The Tiny Moss with a Big Story


Mosses may be small, but they play a vital role in ecosystems around the world. One fascinating example is Pelekium minusculum (Mitt.) Touw, a tiny moss species in the Thuidiaceae family. Despite its diminutive size, P. minusculum has an intriguing story to tell. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the details of this marvelous little moss.


Pelekium-minutulum-A-apice-de-la-hoja-del-tallo-B-hoja-del-tallo-C-pelos-axilares.png from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Pelekium-minutulum-A-apice-de-la-hoja-del-tallo-B-hoja-del-tallo-C-pelos-axilares_fig3_262748559


Pelekium minusculum is a species of moss first described by William Mitten in 1859 under the name Thuidium minusculum. In 1976, it was transferred to the genus Pelekium by Dutch bryologist Andries Touw. The Thuidiaceae family to which it belongs contains around 72 genera and over 1,300 species worldwide.

Morphology and Identification


Pelekium-mexicanum-A-apice-de-la-hoja-del-tallo-B-hoja-del-tallo-C-pelos-axilares_Q320.jpg from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Pelekium-mexicanum-A-apice-de-la-hoja-del-tallo-B-hoja-del-tallo-C-pelos-axilares_fig2_262748559

P. minusculum is one of the smallest mosses, with shoots typically less than 1 cm long. Its tiny leaves are ovate-triangular and papillose (covered in minute bumps). The leaf margins are plane or slightly recurved. Capsules are rare but cylindrical and curved when present.


OS0145066-2_1549067139.jpg from: https://bryophyteportal.org/portal/collections/individual/index.php?occid=4551083

Identifying P. minusculum requires microscopic examination. Key features to look for include:

  • Dimorphic leaves (two different shapes)
  • Papillose leaf cells
  • Short, double costa (midrib)
  • Pinnate branching pattern

Global Distribution and Habitat

Pelekium minusculum has a wide distribution, found in


Rauella_scita_M17086_1563913667.jpg from: https://bryophyteportal.org/portal/collections/individual/index.php?occid=4620797


obsfoto_cd8e03a3-586d-4444-af97-6dbbde9b7985.jpg from: https://www.naturbasen.dk/art/3442/almindelig-etagemos

Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Pacific.


Abietinella_abietina_M17074_1589204468.jpg from: https://bryophyteportal.org/frullania/taxa/index.php?taxon=Thuidiaceae

It typically grows on tree trunks, branches, and rocks in moist, shady forests from lowlands to mountains. The ability to colonize various substrates allows it to inhabit diverse habitats.

Ecological Roles and Adaptations

Like other mosses, P. minusculum plays important ecological roles:

  • Helps retain moisture and prevent erosion
  • Provides shelter for micro-fauna
  • Contributes to nutrient cycling
  • Serves as bioindicator of air quality

Its small size is an adaptation that enables it to exploit limited resources and colonize small spaces. The papillose leaf surface aids in water retention. Asexual reproduction via fragmentation allows it to disperse despite rarely producing spores.


medium.jpeg from: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/448642-Pelekium-versicolor


Pelekium minusculum may be an unassuming moss, but it exemplifies the remarkable adaptations and ecological significance of bryophytes. From tropical rainforests to temperate woodlands, this tiny species quietly plays its part in the complex web of life. Next time you spot a small moss, take a closer look – it might just be a minuscule Pelekium with a grand story!


chabosinobugoke210716_2.jpg from: https://soyokaze2jp.blogspot.com/2021/09/blog-post_6.html


g_microphyllum1.jpg from: https://www.wnmu.edu/academic/nspages/gilaflora/galium_microphyllum.html

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