midrib of Eurhynchium angustirete coming out as thorne

The midrib of a leaf of Eurhynchium angustirete. coming out as thorne on the underside.


Family: Brachytheciaceae(de) Order: Hypnales(de)

The genus Eurhynchium is sometimes divided into the genera Eurhynchium, Oxyrhynchium and Stokesiella, but the definitions of those genera are matter of discussion. So most books put all species into one big genus "Eurhynchium".

Within the family the plants of this genus are characterized by their midrib, which ends in the upper part of the leaf and comes out as a thorne on the underside of the leaf.

branch leaf of Eurhynchium praelongum stem leaf of Eurhynchium praelongum

Branch leaf and stem leaf of Eurhynchium praelongum.

The shape of the leaves is different on the main stems and the branches: The leaves on the branches are longer, more slender, and lanceolate, whereas the stem leaves or broadly deltoid or cordate. All leaves are clearly dentate. The cells are -as in nearly all species of the family- prosenchymatic. The two pictures on the right show a typical stem leaf, and a typical branch leaf (the latter in a somewhat stronger magnification). But in most species the difference it not as marked as in those leaves of Eurhynchium praelongum.

The plants of this genus are in most cases laxly irregularly branched until dendroid.

The operculum always carries a long beak.

In total this genus contains about 90 species, 12 thereof in Europe, 9 in germany.

Eurhynchium praelongum (Hedw.) B.S.G.

Eurhynchium praelongum

Eurhynchium praelongum on the humus in a ditch beside a forest path near Bad Münstereifel (germany).

The species Eurhynchium praelongum is a very common moss of the lowlands and the highlands (but not of the mountains). It likes shady and humid or moist locations, e.g. forest grounds, in ditches or near brooks. It grows on earth as well as on rotten wood or wet rocks.

Plants of this species are in most cases rather regularly and densly pennate. The visible part of the feathers is in most cases about 3-4cm long. The total length may be 10cm.

The different shaping of the stem leaves and the branch leaves (to be seen in the two pictures above) is much more clearer in this species than in the most other species of the genus. The stem leaves are broadly cordate or deltoid at the base, and then more or less suddenly contracted into a long and sharp and denticulate acumen.

Eurhynchium striatum (Hedw.) Schimp.

This is one of the more robust Eurhynchium species. It is about 5cm high. Characteristic are the ascending and more or less dendroid stems, what can't be seen on the view from above on the picture below. The plants are green or yellowish green. Sometimes some branches are like flagella. The next species Eurhynchium angustirete has a very similar habit, but is rather simply distinguishable by the shape of the leaves.

The sometimes somewhat squarrose leaves have a broad, cordate base and a deltoid tip. Whole the edge is dentate. The branch leaves are a bit smaller than the stem leaves, but apart from this similar. In total the leaves are about two times as long as they are broad.

Eurhynchium striatum forms lax turfs on shady forest grounds, under bushes, on rotten wood or in humid, shady meadows. It can be found in whole Europe, in particular in the atlantic and mediterranean regions, and in parts of north africa.

Eurhynchium striatum

Eurhynchium striatum.

Eurhynchium angustirete (Broth.) Kop.

stem leaf of Eurhynchium angustirete

Stem leaf of Eurhynchium angustirete.

This species is closely related to Eurhynchium striatum and nearly looks like it too. Sometimes it is looked upon as a subspecies of it. The distinguishing characteristic are the substantially broader leaves of Eurhynchium angustirete: The stem leaves are in most cases only a bit longer than broad. The angle at the tip of the leaf is about 45° or more. Unfortunately the leaf on the right did only barely fit into the picture, so that the quality is not very good near the edge. The plants are perhaps a bit more stocky and more densly foliated than Eurhynchium striatum.

Eurhynchium angustirete grows at similar locations as Eurhynchium striatum and often together with it. It can be found in Europa and in Asia. In Bavaria and the Alpes it is more frequent than Eurhynchium striatum and seems to replace it at many locations.

by Michael Becker, 10/2000. Translated: 2/2002:
Last modification: 8/2001.