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Unveiling Aongstroemia jamaicensis: The Jamaican Moss of the Aongstroemiaceae Family

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f01_139.jpg from: https://bioone.org/journals/cryptogamie-bryologie/volume-32/issue-2/cryb.v32.iss1.2011.139/Pohlia-Oerstediana-Müll-Hal-A-J-Shaw-Bryaceae-Bryopsida-an/10.7872/cryb.v32.iss1.2011.139.full

Aongstroemia jamaicensis: The Jamaican Moss of the Aongstroemiaceae Family


Today we’re diving into the fascinating world of Aongstroemia jamaicensis Müll.Hal., a unique moss species from the Aongstroemiaceae family. Also simply known as Aongstroemia, this Jamaican native is a true gem in the realm of bryophytes. Let’s explore what makes this tiny plant so special!

Background on Aongstroemia

Aongstroemia is a genus of mosses belonging to the Aongstroemiaceae family in the order Dicranales. The genus is named after Swedish botanist Johan Ångström. There are around 10 known species in the genus, primarily found in tropical regions of the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

Morphology and Identification

A. jamaicensis forms small tufts or cushions on its substrate. The leaves are lanceolate


medium-28678-300×199.jpeg from: https://plantdollar.com/plant/aongstroemia/

(lance-shaped) and have a single costa


Aongstroemia-gayana-A-Dry-plants-B-C-Wet-plant-D-Leaves-E-Perichaetial-leaves.ppm from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Aongstroemia-gayana-A-Dry-plants-B-C-Wet-plant-D-Leaves-E-Perichaetial-leaves_fig1_333728342

(midrib) that extends to the leaf tip. Leaf margins are entire and the cells are


16083595bb6b5297d4932aee5f359826.jpg from: https://openmuseum.tw/muse/digi_object/2355523fe7d6b11d4b7a8ac495911fd7

quadrate (square-shaped) to short-rectangular. The setae (stalks bearing the capsules) are


5856d54f21c593d9017a4c708465902e.jpg from: https://openmuseum.tw/muse/digi_object/944be5363af1050246cc941b5ca41998



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and the capsules are erect and cylindrical.

Global Distribution and Habitat

As the name suggests, A. jamaicensis is native to Jamaica. However, it has also been recorded in other parts of the Caribbean, Central America, and northern South America. This moss typically grows on tree trunks, decaying logs


bryoandersonia-tray-illecebra-ecomm-via-mountainmoss.png from: https://www.familyhandyman.com/list/moss-to-grow-in-your-yard/

, rocks, and soil in humid tropical forests at low to mid elevations.

Ecological Roles and Adaptations

Like other mosses, A. jamaicensis plays important roles in its ecosystem:

  • Moisture retention: The dense tufts help trap and retain moisture, regulating humidity in the microenvironment.

    reindeer-moss-lichen-4.jpg from: https://gohiking.ca/plants/mushrooms/lichens/reindeer-moss/

  • Substrate stabilization: The rhizoids anchor the moss to its substrate, helping prevent soil erosion.
  • Microhabitat creation: The tufts provide shelter and microhabitats for various tiny invertebrates.
  • Nutrient cycling: As part of the detritus, the moss aids in decomposition and nutrient cycling when it dies.

The moss has adapted to its tropical habitat through features like desiccation tolerance to survive periodic drying, and its clumping growth form to efficiently capture moisture and nutrients.


Aongstroemia jamaicensis may be small, but it is a fascinating and ecologically valuable member of the Aongstroemiaceae family. Next time you’re hiking through a humid Jamaican forest, keep your eyes peeled for this marvelous moss! What other tiny treasures might be awaiting discovery in the world of bryophytes?

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