Polytrichum commune, photographed by James K. Lindsey.

Belongs within: Bryophyta.

The Polytrichaceae are a family of mostly relatively large mosses found worldwide. They are distinguished by the presence of a nematodontous peristome around the mouth of the spore capsule: i.e. the opening has a surrounding ring of teeth, but rather than being constructed of reduced cell wall remnants as in the Polytrichaceae's sister group (the Bryopsida), the teeth are composed of entire cells. Species of this family are commonly referred to as 'hair-cap mosses' due to the presence of hair on the calyptrae of many species, though hairs are few in species of Oligotrichum and absent in Catharinea (Dixon 1924). The genus Dawsonia includes the world's tallest moss species, D. superba, reaching 50 cm in height.

Characters (from Smith & Smith 2004): Plants large, usually rhizomatous. Stems with central strand with differentiated conductive tissue. Leaves usually differentiated into sheathing base with narrow costa, and blade composed largely of expanded costa bearing longitudinal lamellae on adaxial side, lamina usually narrow, 1-2-stratose; margins toothed or entire, sometimes bordered. Capsules erect to horizontal, spherical to cylindrical, terete or 2-6-angled, hypophysis present or absent; annulus absent; peristome nematodontous with 32-64 teeth; columella expanded at top to membranous epiphragm joined to tips of peristome teeth; calyptrae cucullate, glabrous or hairy.

<==Polytrichaceae [Polytrichales, Polytrichidae]
    |--Dendroligotrichum dendroides FHH01 [=Polytrichum dendroides SK02]
    |--Notoligotrichum Smith 1971 SK02
    |    |--N. australe (Hooker & Wilson) Smith 1971 (see below for synonymy) SK02
    |    `--N. crispulum (Hooker & Wilson) Smith 1971 (see below for synonymy) SK02
    |--Psilopilum Brid. 1827 SK02
    |    |--P. bellii A49
    |    |--P. compressum D03b
    |    `--P. pyriforme (Hampe) Jaeger 1879 [=Catharinea pyriformis, Atrichum pyriforme, Oligotrichum pyriforme] SK02
    |--Polytrichadelphus (Müll.Hal.) Mitt. 1859 SK02
    |    |--P. dendroides D03b
    |    |--P. magellanicus (Hedw.) Mitt. 1859 (see below for synonymy) SK02
    |    `--P. squamosa D03b
    |--Oligotrichum FHH01
    |    |--O. hercynicum FHH01 [=Catharinea hercynica D24; incl. O. exiguum D24, O. incurvum D24]
    |    |    |--O. h. var. hercynicum D24
    |    |    `--O. h. var. laxum D24
    |    `--O. tenuirostre A49
    |--Catharinea D24
    |    |--C. crispa [=Atrichum crispum] D24
    |    |    |--C. c. var. crispa D24
    |    |    `--C. c. var. densifolia D24
    |    `--C. tenella [=Atrichum tenellum] D24
    |--Polytrichastrum Smith 1971 SK02
    |    |--P. alpinum (Hedw.) Smith 1971 SK02 (see below for synonymy)
    |    |    |--P. a. var. alpinum D24
    |    |    |--‘Polytrichum’ a. var. septentrionale D24
    |    |    `--‘Polytrichum’ a. var. silvaticum [incl. Pogonatum alpinum var. arcticum] D24
    |    `--P. formosum (Hedw.) Smith 1971 SK02 (see below for synonymy)
    |--Dawsonia Brown 1811 [Dawsoniaceae, Dawsoniales] SK02
    |    |--D. longiseta Hampe 1860 [=D. longisetacea (l. c.); incl. D. appressa, D. victoriae] SK02
    |    |--D. polytrichoides Brown 1811 [=Triplocoma polytrichoides; incl. D. polytrichoides var. minor (n. n.)] SK02
    |    `--D. superba Greville 1847 SK02
    |         |--D. s. var. superba SK02
    |         `--D. s. var. pulchra Zanten 1972 (see below for synonymy) SK02
    |--Atrichum Palisot de Beauvois 1804 SK02
    |    |--A. androgynum (Müll.Hal.) Jaeger 1875 (see below for synonymy) SK02
    |    |--A. angustatum [=Catharinea angustata, Polytrichum angustatum] SK02
    |    |    |--A. a. var. angustatum D24
    |    |    `--‘Catharinea angustata’ var. rhystophylla D24
    |    |--A. flavisetum N02
    |    `--A. undulatum FHH01 [=Bryum undulatum D24, Catharinea undulata] D24
    |         |--A. u. var. undulatum D24
    |         |--‘Catharinea undulata’ var. haussknechtii [=Atrichum haussknechtii] D24
    |         `--‘Catharinea undulata’ var. minor D24
    |--Pogonatum Palisot de Beauvois 1804 SK02
    |    |--P. aloides FHH01 [=Polytrichum aloides D24]
    |    |    |--P. a. var. aloides D24
    |    |    `--‘Polytrichum’ a. var. dicksoni [incl. Pogonatum aloides var. defluens] D24
    |    |--‘Polytrichum’ capillare D24
    |    |--P. dendroides D03a
    |    |--P. graeffeanum B57
    |    |--P. microstomum N02
    |    |--P. nanum [=Polytrichum nanum; incl. Pol. subrotundum] D24
    |    |    |--P. n. var. nanum D24
    |    |    `--‘Polytrichum’ n. var. longisetum D24
    |    |--P. neesii (Müll.Hal.) Dozy 1856 (see below for synonymy) SK02
    |    |--P. robustum [incl. P. ekmanii Thériot 1944] J87
    |    |--P. subtortile [incl. P. subtortile var. teysmannianum] SK02
    |    |--P. subulatum (Brid.) Brid. 1827 [incl. Polytrichum nanournigerum, Pog. nanournigerum] SK02
    |    |--P. tortile [=Polytrichum tortile] SK02
    |    |--P. tubulosum Dixon 1941 SK02
    |    `--P. urnigerum [=Polytrichum urnigerum] D24
    |         |--P. u. var. urnigerum D24
    |         `--P. u. var. humile [=Polytrichum urnigerum var. humile] D24
    `--Polytrichum Hedw. 1801 SK02 [incl. P. subg. Eu-Polytrichum D24]
         |--P. brachypelma Müll.Hal. 1897 SK02
         |--P. cataractarum Müll.Hal. 1897 SK02
         |--P. commune Hedw. 1801 CD07
         |    |--P. c. var. commune SK02
         |    |--P. c. var. minus [incl. P. commune var. fastigiatum] D24
         |    |--P. c. var. perigoniale (Michx.) Hampe 1839 SK02
         |    `--P. c. var. trichodes SK02
         |--P. croceum Hampe 1853 SK02
         |--P. elongatum D03b
         |--P. gracile D24
         |--P. hoppei D24
         |--P. juniperinum Hedw. 1801 (see below for synonymy) SK02
         |--P. lycopodioides Müll.Hal. 1897 SK02
         |--P. norvegicum SK02
         |--P. novae-hollandiae Jaeger 1875 [incl. P. densifolium (preoc.)] SK02
         |--P. obliquirostre Müll.Hal. 1897 SK02
         |--P. patagonicum D03b
         |--P. piliferum Hedw. 1801 (see below for synonymy) SK02
         |--P. recurvipilum Müll.Hal. 1897 SK02
         |--P. sexangulare D24
         |--P. spegazzinii D03b
         |--P. strictum SK02
         |--P. trachynotum D03b
         `--P. uliginosum VHJ03

Nomina nuda: Pogonatum australasicum f. minor Hampe & Geh. 1881 SK02
             Polytrichadelphus stricticaulis Dusén 1903 D03b

Atrichum androgynum (Müll.Hal.) Jaeger 1875 [incl. Catharinea leptocylindrica, A. leptocylindricum, Polytrichum ligulatum, A. ligulatum, Catharinea ligulata, C. minuta, Atrichum minutum, Oligotrichum minutum, Catharinea muelleri, Atrichum muelleri (preoc.), Polytrichum angustatum var. polysetum, A. angustatum var. polysetum (nom. inv.), Catharinea pusilla, A. pusillum, C. semilamellosa, A. semilamellosum, C. sideroloma, A. sideroloma] SK02

Dawsonia superba var. pulchra Zanten 1972 [incl. D. intermedia, Polytrichum longifolium (nom. rej.), D. longifolia (Bruch & Schimp.) Zanten 1977 (nom. rej.)] SK02

Notoligotrichum australe (Hooker & Wilson) Smith 1971 [=Polytrichum australe non P. juniperinum var. australe Müll.Hal. 1868, Psilopilum australe (Hooker & Wilson) Mitt. 1860] SK02

Notoligotrichum crispulum (Hooker & Wilson) Smith 1971 [=Polytrichum crispulum, Catharinea crispula, Psilopilum crispulum (Hooker & Wilson) Mitt. 1860] SK02

Pogonatum neesii (Müll.Hal.) Dozy 1856 [incl. Polytrichum australasicum, Pog. australasicum, Pog. baileyi (nom. inv.), Polytrichum brachypodium, Pog. brachypodium (Müll.Hal.) Watts & Whitel. 1902, Pol. camarae, Pog. camarae (Müll.Hal.) Paris 1897, Pol. gippslandiae, Pog. gippslandiae (Müll.Hal.) Paris 1900, Pol. nanocarpum, Pog. nanocarpum (Müll.Hal.) Paris 1900] SK02

Polytrichadelphus magellanicus (Hedw.) Mitt. 1859 [=Polytrichum magellanicum; incl. Catharinea arnoldii, Oligotrichum arnoldii, Polytrichadelphus arnoldii, Catharinea australasica, Oligotrichum australasicum, Polytrichadelphus australasicus, Polytrichum innovans (nom. inv.), Catharinea innovans, Oligotrichum innovans, Polytrichadelphus innovans, Catharinea lagenacea, Polytrichadelphus lagenaceus, C. prolificans, Polytrichadelphus prolificans] SK02

Polytrichastrum alpinum (Hedw.) Smith 1971 SK02 [=Polytrichum alpinum SK02, Pogonatum alpinum SK02; incl. Pog. austroalpinum SK02, Polytrichum austroalpinum (nom. inv.) SK02, Polytrichum alpinum var. campanulatum D24, Polytrichum pseudoalpinum SK02, Pogonatum pseudoalpinum SK02]

Polytrichastrum formosum (Hedw.) Smith 1971 SK02 [=Polytrichum formosum Hedw. 1801 SK02; incl. Polytrichum attenuatum D24]

Polytrichum juniperinum Hedw. 1801 [incl. P. juniperinum var. australe Müll.Hal. 1868, P. beccarii, P. cypellomitrium, P. juniperifolium, P. longipilum, P. maoriae, P. nodicoma, P. ryparomitrium, P. tasmaniae, P. tasmanicum (l. c.), P. tysdalei, P. tisdallii (l. c.)] SK02

Polytrichum piliferum Hedw. 1801 [incl. P. pilosum (nom. illeg.), P. sullivanii, Eupolytrichum sullivanii (nom. inv.)] SK02

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A49] Allison, K. W. 1949. Description of a new species with notes and localities for some Otago and Southland mosses. Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 77 (2): 278–283.

[B57] Bartram, E. B. 1957. Additional Fijian mosses, III. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 46 (12): 392–396.

[CD07] Cantino, P. D., J. A. Doyle, S. W. Graham, W. S. Judd, R. G. Olmstead, D. E. Soltis, P. S. Soltis & M. J. Donoghue. 2007. Towards a phylogenetic nomenclature of Tracheophyta. Taxon 56 (3): E1–E44.

[D24] Dixon, H. N. 1924. The Student's Handbook of British Mosses 3rd ed. V. V. Sumfield: Eastbourne.

[D03a] Dusén, P. 1903a. The vegetation of western Patagonia. In: Scott, W. B. (ed.) Reports of the Princeton University Expeditions to Patagonia, 1896–1899 vol. 8. Botany pp. 1–34. The University: Princeton (New Jersey).

[D03b] Dusén, P. 1903b. Patagonian and Fuegian mosses. In: Scott, W. B. (ed.) Reports of the Princeton University Expeditions to Patagonia, 1896–1899 vol. 8. Botany pp. 63–126. The University: Princeton (New Jersey).

[FHH01] Frey, W., M. Hofmann & H. H. Hilger. 2001. The gametophyte-sporophyte junction: unequivocal hints for two evolutionary lines of archegoniate land plants. Flora 196: 431–445.

[J87] Judd, W. S. 1987. Floristic study of Morne La Visite and Pic Macaya National Parks, Haiti. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum—Biological Sciences 32 (1): 1–136.

[N02] Negi, H. R. 2002. Abundance and diversity of moss communities of Chopta-Tunganath in the Garhwal Himalaya. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 99 (3): 418–433.

Smith, A. J. E., & R. Smith. 2004. The Moss Flora of Britain and Ireland, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press.

[SK02] Streimann, H., & N. Klazenga. 2002. Catalogue of Australian Mosses. Flora of Australia Supplementary Series 17. Australian Biological Resources Study: Canberra.

[VHJ03] Vanderpoorten, A., L. Hedenäs & A.-L. Jacquemart. 2003. Differentiation in DNA fingerprinting and morphology among species of the pleurocarpous moss genus, Rhytidiadelphus (Hylocomiaceae). Taxon 52: 229–236.

Last updated: 10 January 2018.

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