Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 26, 1893
This text is also available in PDF
(226 KB) Opens in new window
– 302 –

Art. XXX.—Notes on some New Species of New Zealand
Musci: Genus Phascum.

[Read before the Philsophical Institute of Canterbury, 2nd August, 1893.]


There do not appear to be very many species of Phascum in New Zealand. During the course of a number of years I have carefully searched for plants belonging to this genus in all the localities I have visited, and have only been rewarded by the discovery of five species. Two of these are described in the Handbook of the Flora of New Zealand, the other three are new species. They are all small, tender, and inconspicuous plants, very liable to be overlooked, or taken for young plants belonging to other genera. The capsules of all these three species are immersed among the leaves, and in dry weather are entirely hid by the leaves incurving over and protecting them from the effects of the weather. This is no doubt an explanation of their non-discovery.

In this extremely interesting genus the capsules are indehiscent, there being neither valves nor operculum by which the spores can be shed; these can only be liberated by the decay of the capsule or its rupture through the spores germinating within.

This genus has been divided by botanists into a number of subgenera, only three of which are represented in New Zealand. They are found growing in patches, on damp clay and sandy banks, during the winter and early spring months, and are in fruit from June until November. After this period they are generally dried up by the hot winds prevailing about that time, and are then very difficult to find.

Phascum (Acaulon) apiculatum, Hooker and Wilson, is very common all over the Port Hills, and on the plains in the neighbourhood of Christchurch.

Phascum (Pleuridium) nervosum, Hooker, is also to be found in the same localities, but is not so common as the previous one.

Phascum (Pleuridium) lanceolatum, nov. sp.

[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]

Plants perennial, small, growing in dense dark-green patches, monœcious. Stem short, 1/16in., branched. Branches fastigiate, ⅛in. Leaves spreading or erecto-patent, oblong, rounded at the apex, apiculate or oblong-lanceolate, acuminate. Nerve excurrent, forming an apiculus. Margins entire,

– 303 –

except at the apex, where they are minutely toothed by the excurrent cells. Leaves, when dry, become convolute and incurved over the capsule. Areolæ near the base oblong-quadrate; upper, round, dense. Perichætial leaves nearly one-half longer, erect, acuminate, otherwise very similar to stem-leaves. Fruitstalk very short, erect. Capsule immersed, subrotund, cuspidate. Calyptra cucullate. Perigonia gemmaceous, at the base of the branches. Antheridia three to four. Paraphyses numerous.

Hab. Damp ground, in plantations near the River Avon; in fruit from June to November.

Phascum (Pleuridium) longifolium, nov. sp.

[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]

Plants perennial, small, pale-green, growing in small, loose patches. Stem, 3/16in.—¼in., branched. Branches fastigiate, about 1/16in. Leaves long, erecto-patent, linear-lanceolate, acute or apiculate. Margin entire. Nerve continuous, ex-current, forming the point of the leaf. Areolæ, lower long, narrow, quadrate; upper very small and dense; when dry convolute, and incurved over the capsule, completely hiding it. Perichætial leaves longer, nearly erect, linear-lanceolate, acute or apiculate. Nerve continuous. Fruitstalk erect, very short. Capsule immersed, oval, unsymmetrical. Beak oblique, acute. Calyptra cucullate. Monœcious. Perigonia gemmaceous at the base of the branches.

Hab. Steep damp clay-banks, in warm situations, on the Port Hills, fruiting a month later than P. lanceolatum.

In this plant the leaves very much resemble in outline those of P. lanceolatum; they differ in being longer and more numerous, and in the cells at the base of the leaves being also much longer; but the cells at the upper half of this plant are one-half smaller and denser than the corresponding ones of lanceolatum; the fruitstalk of longifolium is much shorter, and the capsule has a different form.

Phascum (Cycnea) arnoldii.

Plants small, growing in a dense tuft, pale-green. Stem very short, branched. Branches fastigiate, about ⅛in. Leaves close-set, upper longest, sheathing near the base, subconvolute, straight or slightly falcate, recurving or incurved, nerved. Perichætial leaves shorter than the upper ones, otherwise very similar. Fruitstalk short, curved. Capsule immersed among the leaves, rotund. Beak short, straight, and narrow. Calyptra small, cucullate.

Hab. Moa Creek (one of the small tributaries of the Wilberforce), growing on rocks together with Andreas and dark-brown Hepaticæ.

Specimen plant deposited in Christchurch Museum.

– 304 –
Explanation of Plate XXXVIII.
Phascum (Pleuridium) lanceolatum.
  • Fig.

  • 1. Stem leaves.

  • 2. Perichætial leaf.

  • 3. Capsule.

Phascum (Pleuridium) longifolium.
  • 1. Stem leaf.

  • 2. Perichætial leaf and capsule.

  • 3. Calyptra.

Phascum (Cycnæa) arnoldii.
  • 1. Lower stem leaves.

  • 2. Middle stem leaves.

  • 3. Upper stem leaf.

  • 4. Perichætial leaf and capsule.

  • 5. Calyptra.