Fire moss Facts

Fire moss Facts
Fire moss belongs to a group of flowerless, non-vascular plants. It can be found all over the world, except in the extremely cold regions. Fire moss (unlike other species of moss) tolerates increased pollution of the air and soil and it can be found in the urban areas, near the roads and mining sites. It often grows on the roofs, sandy and gravelly soil or from the cracks in the sidewalk. Fire moss is also one of the first plants that appear in deforested areas and areas destroyed by fire (pioneer species).
Interesting Fire moss Facts:
Fire moss forms dense, cushion-like mats on the ground. Its miniature stems can reach 0.5 inches in height.
Fire moss grows by developing new "branches" on top of already existing ones.
Fire moss produces short, thread-like leafy structures that are spread when the humidity is high (they are twisted during dry periods of year).
Fire moss contains several pigments that determine the color of the stalks. Young, immature stalks are green colored. Mature stalks are red-colored.
Fire moss that inhabits Antarctica uses pigments to protect its fragile stems from destructive UV radiation.
Fire moss belongs to the group of nitrophilic plants. It thrives on soils that are enriched with nitrogen (polluted areas and areas cleared with fire).
Fire moss reproduces via division of a thread-like mass of filaments known as protonema (vegetative reproduction) or via spores (generative reproduction).
Life cycle of fire moss consists of two phases: gametophyte and sporophyte. Gametophyte generation develops from a spore. Fire moss is dioicous species (male and female reproductive structures develop on individual plants). Fire moss produces archegonia (female reproductive structures) and antheridia (male reproductive structures) on separate, green, leafy structures.
Fire moss requires moisture for the successful fertilization. Under adequate weather conditions, sperm cells swim toward archegonia to fertilize the eggs. Fertilized eggs develop into new generation of fire moss called sporophyte.
Sporophyte reaches maturity after 3 to 6 months. It produces long, fruit stalks called setae equipped with capsules filled with spores. Changes in the humidity of the air, usually during the late spring, induce release of spores from the capsules. Released spores germinate and develop into gametophytes, and cycle starts all over again.
Spores of fire moss are able to germinate after 16 years of dormancy.
Capsules of fire moss are equipped with peristome teeth, structures which facilitate gradual dispersal of spores.
Scientific name of fire moss is Ceratodon. It originates from Latin word "cerato" which means "horn-shaped". Name refers to the horn-like peristome teeth on the capsules.
Springtails are arthropods which often nest in the female fire moss plants (they are attracted by specific odor). These animals facilitate fertilization of fire moss (similar to insects which are responsible for the pollination of flowering plants).
Fire moss can survive up to 10 years in the wild.


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