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Published In: Fragmenta Floristica et Geobotanica 37: 212. 1992. (Fragm. Florist. Geobot.) Name publication detail

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 2/16/2011)
Acceptance : Accepted
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Syntrichia fragilis has oblong-lingulate to spathulate, mucronate leaves, shortly excurrent costae, and brittle leaves. A distinctive feature of the fragile leaves in this species is the tendency  of the lamina to detach in large blocks of cells. Syntrichia amphidiacea has a similar leaf shape, but differs from S. fragilis in its weakly papillose leaf cells, percurrent to subpercurrent costa with smooth ventral surface cells, and multicellular leaf gemmae. Syntrichia percarnosa also has similarly shaped leaves, it differs from S. fragilis in its non-fragile, cucullate leaves, subpercurrent costa with dorsal substereids, and occasionally bistratose leaf cells.

Illustrations: Bartram (1924a, Pl. 7 1–11, as Tortula fragilifolia); Grout (1939, Pl. 111 B); Bartram (1949, Fig. 63 A–C); Townsend (1978, Fig. 1 & Pl. 1, as Tortula hildebrandtii and T. schmidii); Crum and Anderson (1981, Fig. 180); Magill (1981, Fig. 61 10–16, as Tortula schmidii); Zander (1993, Pl. 108 10–11); Sharp et al. (1994, Fig. 253); Churchill and Linares (1995, Fig. 161 j–m). Figure 76.
Habitat: On limestone boulders or tree bark (Quercus, Salix); 40–3352 m.
Distribution in Central America: GUATEMALA. Baja Verapaz: Sharp 2908 (MO);  Huehuetenango: Sharp 4807 (MO); Jutiapa: Standley 75262 (F); Quezaltenango: Sharp 2306 (MO); Suchitepéquez: Standley 58825 (F).
World Range: North-Central, Southwestern, South-Central, and Southeastern U.S.A.; Mexico; Central America; Caribbean, Western, Northern, and Southern South America, Brazil; Southwestern, Middle, and Southeastern Europe; Western Asia, Arabian Peninsula, China; Macaronesia, Northern Africa, Northeast, West-Central, East, and South Tropical Africa, Southern Africa; Indian Subcontinent.


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Syntrichia fragilis (Tayl.) Ochyra, Fragm. Florist. Geobot. 37: 212. 1992.

Tortula fragilis Tayl., London J. Bot. 6: 333. 1847. Protologue: Ecuador. On Pichincha; Prof. W. Jameson. Nov. 1846. 

Plants medium-sized, forming tufts or mats, reddish green to green above, brownish green to brown below, saxicolous, corticolous, or terricolous. Stems 5–20 mm high, irregularly branched, central strand weakly developed, epidermal cells thin-walled, not distinctly differentiated; rhizoids scattered on stem, smooth. Axillary hairs 6–8 cells long, all hyaline. Leaves 2–3.5 mm long, oblong-lingulate, to spathulate, erect at base, appressed, flexuose-twisted to spirally twisted around stem when dry, wide-spreading when wet; apices acute to obtuse, mucronate; lamina unistratose, fragile; margins entire or lightly crenulate, plane above, revolute at base; costa narrow, percurrent to short excurrent, surface cells quadrate, papillose on both surfaces, guide cells and single (dorsal) stereid band well-developed, ventral surface layer of enlarged, papillose cells present; upper cells irregularly quadrate, oblate, or short-rectangular, 6–14 x 3–10 μm, firm-walled, densely and thickly pluripapillose with branched or c-shaped papilla, marginal cells at times differentiated as a border of brownish, thicker-walled cells, basal cells abruptly differentiated, rectangular, thin-walled, hyaline, smooth, 50–110 x 20–30 μm, becoming short-rectangular and firm-walled near the margins, alar cells not differentiated. Dioicous. Perichaetia and perigonia terminal. Setae smooth, 10–15 mm long, reddish brown. Capsules cylindric, erect, 2–4 mm long, smooth, reddish brown; exothecial cells long-rectangular, firm-walled; stomata in neck; opercula rostrate, beak erect, 1.5–1.8 mm long; annuli of 2–3 rows of vesiculose cells; peristome teeth yellow-brown, 1.2–1.5 mm long, filaments papillose, erect to twisted 1/2 turn, basal membrane short. Spores 15–22 μm, granulate. Calyptrae cucullate, smooth, 3 mm long.



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