Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 32, 1899
This text is also available in PDF
(120 KB) Opens in new window
– 148 –

Art. XIX.—Notes on the New Zealand Musci: On a Proposed New Genus.

[Read before the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, 4th October, 1899.]

Plate XVI.

In June, 1889, while botanizing in Stewart Island, in the narrow valley which extends from Paterson's Inlet to Mason's Bay, on the west coast of the island, I found the moss which is the subject of this paper. On the northern side of this valley, nearly opposite Mr. W. Walker's house, a small rill runs from the side of the hill and spreads out on the flat ground, forming a kind of sub-marsh, and it was here the moss was found. It was confined to a space of about 20 yards in diameter, and was in great abundance, but, being an annual, it was long past maturity.

In form the capsules of this moss resemble those of the genus Trematodon, to which it has a close affinity. No trace of a peristome was found, and from the condition the capsules were in it was doubtful if they had not been destroyed.

I again visited Stewart Island in January, 1892, with the hope that among the specimens collected there might be perfect specimens of the above-mentioned moss. On the morning after my arrival at Mr. Walker's station I started for the habitat where I had found this moss so plentiful on a former occasion, but on arriving there I found that a fire had passed over the place, destroying all trace of the plants. Thinking that there might be other habitats of this moss found in the valley, I commenced a systematic search of it from one end to the other, but without seeing a single specimen. I then extended the search into a branch of the valley which ended on the sea-beach opposite the Ruggedy Isles, and this also

– 149 –

ended in disappointment, no specimen being seen. Subsequently I reached Mr. Traill's Waterfall Run, at the head of Paterson's Inlet, and quite unexpectedly found the plants I had been seeking for so long growing at the end of the station house in perfect condition and in great abundance, but, as in the former case, they were confined to a small area. They appear to be extremely local, and are perhaps rare. I have seen them growing in no other place in New Zealand.

After a careful examination of the perfect specimens the previous diagnosis which I had made of this moss was confirmed—that, although approaching closely to the genus Trematodon, it could not properly be placed in that genus, owing to the absence of a peristome, and the calyptra being mitriform.

In order that the species may be properly placed, I have created a new genus, which I have named Stirtonia, after Dr. James Stirton, of Glasgow, an eminent cryptogamist, who has contributed several papers on the plants of New Zealand; and the species is named after Mr. A. McKay, Geologist to the Government of New Zealand.

Stirtonia, gen. nov.

Capsule oblong, with a narrow struma. Operculum, oblique, conico-rostrate. Peristome none. Calyptra mitriform.

S. mackayi, sp. nov. Plate XVI.

Plants annual, monœcious, growing in patches ¼in.—⅜in. high, simple or occasionally branched. Leaves distant, in bricating, spreading, flexuous, acicular from an erect sheathing-base; margins entire; nerve stout, occupying all the upper portion of the leaf. Areola: Upper small, dense; lower linear; leaves scarcely altered when dry. Perichætial leaves nearly erect, acicular from a large erect sheathing convolute base. Fruit acrocarpous. Fruitstalk nearly erect, pale, slender, ⅜in. long. Capsule oblong-clavate, with a narrow solid tapering struma. Operculum oblique, conico-rostrate, slender, one-third the length of the capsule. Peristome none. Calyptra mitriform, laciniated at the base, half the length of the capsule.

Hab. On wet turfy soil, Stewart Island; June, 1889, and January, 1892. Collected by R. B.

Explanation of Plate XVI.
1.

Capsule.

2.

Perichætial leaves.

3.

First leaf outside perichætial leaves.

4.

Upper leaf.

5.

Middle leaves.

6.

Calyptra.