Information about: Mosses

Index | Mosses

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Mosses. A large group of flowerless plants of diminutive size, which constitute the class Musci, or Muscineae. Mosses are among the most extensively diffused of all plants, and are both terrestrial and aquatic in habits. They consist of a leafy stem, the leaves being often closely packed or overlapping one another. The fructification of mosses is somewhat complicated, and may be compared to that of ferns in all essential points. A capsule is first produced, and borne at the top of a long foot stalk which springs from a tuft of leaves. It is covered at first by a hood, termed the calyptra, but this afterward falls off, and the capsule is then seen to be closed by an operculum or lid, which eventually bursts away to allow the escape of the contained spores. The mouth of the capsule, when the operculum has fallen off, is seen to be surrounded by a row of minute teeth which constitute the peristome. The development of the spore gives rise to a branching filament, on several points of which buds appear, which become leafy stems. Some of these produce true reproductive organs, the male organs being termed antheridia, and the female organs archegonia; these may be borne by the same plant, or by different plants. Several thousand species of mosses are known, and many of them are extremely beautiful, especially under the microscope.