Unveiling Nanomitrium lacustre: The Tiny Moss with a Big Story

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Fissidens-minutipes-MuellHal-Broth-A-Gametophyte-with-sporophyte-B-C_Q320.jpg from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Fissidens-minutipes-MuellHal-Broth-A-Gametophyte-with-sporophyte-B-C_fig1_323270006

Nanomitrium lacustre: The Tiny Moss with a Big Story


When it comes to the world of mosses, Nanomitrium lacustre (Müll.Hal.) Broth., also known simply as Nanomitrium, may be small in size but it has a fascinating story to tell. This diminutive moss, belonging to the Micromitriaceae family, plays important ecological roles despite its tiny stature. Let’s take a closer look at this captivating bryophyte.

Background on Nanomitrium

Nanomitrium lacustre is a species of moss classified in the Bryophyta division and Bryopsida class. The genus name Nanomitrium means “dwarf cap” in Greek, referring to the small size of this moss. It was first described scientifically in 1869 by German botanist Johann Karl August Müller, with the species name lacustre meaning “of lakes”, indicating its aquatic habitat.

Morphology and Identification

One of the most notable features of N. lacustre is its extremely small size. The individual plants are among the tiniest of all mosses, typically measuring only 1-2 mm tall. The minuscule leaves are oval-shaped and translucent


Amphidium_californicum_2_1579151820_lg.jpg from: https://bryophyteportal.org/portal/imagelib/imgdetails.php?imgid=1859022

, lacking a midrib. Nanomitrium is


Amphidium_californicum_8407d_1579151589_lg.jpg from: https://bryophyteportal.org/portal/imagelib/imgdetails.php?imgid=1859021

acrocarpous, meaning the capsules are borne at the tips of the stems. The spore capsules are globose and cleistocarpous (lacking an operculum), a key identifying characteristic.

Global Distribution and Habitat

Nanomitrium lacustre has a widespread but scattered distribution, found in parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. It grows in seasonally wet or submerged habitats, often on damp soil or mud at the edges of lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams. This semi-aquatic moss is well-adapted to periodically flooded conditions.


24-Isopterygium-minutirameum-Muell-Hal-A-Jaeger-from-SIZK-K-3178-stems-with.png from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/24-Isopterygium-minutirameum-Muell-Hal-A-Jaeger-from-SIZK-K-3178-stems-with_fig2_270427958

Ecological Roles and Adaptations

Despite its small size, N. lacustre plays valuable roles in its wetland ecosystems:

Nanomitrium has evolved several adaptations to thrive in its semi-aquatic niche:


Nanomitrium lacustre may be an easily overlooked moss due to its minute size, but it is a remarkable and ecologically important species. From its specialized semi-aquatic habitat to its key roles in nutrient cycling and microhabitat provision, this tiny bryophyte has an outsized story to tell. The next time you find yourself beside a lake or pond, take a closer look – you might just spot the minuscule but mighty Nanomitrium making its home there. What other small wonders of the plant kingdom might we be missing right before our eyes?

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