Bryolog 22 (25 November 2020)


Free Virtual Workshop for the Public: Wonders of a dryland moss: Syntrichia from genomes to ecosystems, Saturday, January 30, 2021, 1 pm – 5 pm, on Zoom. Brent D. Mishler, Kirsten Fisher, and Jenna Ekwealor, plus guest appearances by other members of the 3D Moss research group. This workshop will look at multiple levels of biological organization in the desiccation-tolerant moss genus Syntrichia, the subject of an integrated National Science Foundation grant ( Short presentations will be given on different aspects of our project, including genomics, population genetics, reproductive biology, physiology, systematics, and ecosystem function in the biotic soil crust. These will be interspersed with hands-on activities and discussion, and will give participants an unusually holistic picture of biology and how seemingly different subdisciplines interact. Literature and other materials for use in the workshop will be mailed to participants ahead of time. Registration: the registration fees will be paid by the 3D Moss NSF grant, so there is no charge to participants but registration is required. Register here:

SO BE FREE 25 IS ON BUT WITH A REVISED DATE: April 30 – May 3, 2021

—Brent Mishler, Chapter President

The date for SO BE FREE 25 has been changed: it will be April 30 – May 3, 2021, at Saratoga Springs in Lake County.  We will follow all required social distancing measures, including masks. We will have all meals and gatherings outside, and will take all necessary precautions to keep everyone safe. So it will be a wonderful and safe event.  

I know we are all ready to get back out in the field, observe bryophytes and interact with our fellow bryologists! All the information, plus registration form are here: There is a free SO BE FREE T-shirt for the first 25 registrants! As always we offer a student discount; this year we have added a payment plan for students. For a detailed description of the venue and preliminary list of bryophytes found there, see this article from the previous newsletter:
Even if you registered for the cancelled 2020 foray and let us hold your payment, you still need to register again for 2021 using the form online—there is a place to indicate the amount from your 2020 payment you want to apply this year (or you can save your 2020 credit towards next year if you wish).
It will be great to get together again, so I hope to see a large turnout of our members. Please encourage students and others interested in learning bryophytes to attend. We will have a beginners session as always, to bring people up to speed. See you there!

Quarterly Report

  • Run for the Chapter’s Board of Directors A volunteer organization like ours only runs if people step up and take part. Positions on the Chapter Board begin their two-year terms on April 1, but terms are staggered such that two positions are up for election each year. This year, the Secretary and Field Trip Director positions will be voted on. The duties of the positions are spelled out here:—if you are interested in running for one of these positions, please contact Brent Mishler at by December 15th, 2020. The election will be held in January 2021.

Timeless Bits

More nomenclatural changes for species that occur in California within Lewinskya (Orthotrichaceae) and Plagiothecium (Plagiotheciaceae) 

— James R. Shevock, California Academy of Sciences

In Bryolog 20, I updated the readership about the various splits that have been supported by phylogenetic studies creating the genera, LewinskyaNyholmiella and Pulvigera out of Orthotrichum.

Once Orthotrichum was split nearly in half with the establishment of the genus Lewinskya (Lara et al. 2016) to address the superficial stomate species, I speculated that additional changes within Lewinskya were inevitable as more species, especially those taxa that occur in the Pacific West are studied. Sure enough, another complex has now been examined and the results are in. This time it is the Lewinskya affinis complex. Species that have a disjunct distribution pattern of occurring in both the Mediterranean region and California are good candidates to determine if they are indeed the same thing. Morphologically, these species appear to be identical or have only a slight variation in one or more character states over their wide and disjunct distribution range, so the question becomes, are they really the same thing based on molecular evidence? Sometimes these Mediterranean-California species are indeed the same and sometimes not. In Norris & Shevock (2004) and again in Flora of North America (2014), only Orthotrichum affine [=Lewinskya affinis] and Orthotrichum praemorsum [=Lewinskya praemorsa] were reported for North America. However, a recently published study (Vigalondo et al. 2020) clearly concluded that the name Orthotrichum affine for California and North American plants has been misapplied. What has been determined is that Lewinskya affinis within this species complex is actually restricted to Europe, and the North American plants represent an entirely different evolutionary group. Not only has this required a name change for the western North American plants, we also obtained two additional new species in this complex that were recognized based on molecular and morphological characters. So Lewinskya pseudoaffinis (Schrad. ex Brid.) Vigalondo, F. Lara & Garilleti, is the new name for the North American plants, and two new species within this species complex from western North America are also documented to occur in California. The two new species for the California bryoflora are Lewinskya arida Vigalondo, F. Lara & Garilleti and Lewinskya pacifica Vigalondo, F. Lara & Garilleti. Excellent photographs of these species and a key are provided in Vigalondo et al. (2020). For those who prefer to keep Orthotrichum intact reflecting its historic application, you now have a dilemma since there is no alternative published name combination at this time for Lewinskya pseudoaffinisL. arida and L. pacifica within Orthotrichum for these endemic Pacific West mosses.

Now let’s take a closer look at recent developments in Plagiothecium. This is a genus of about 90 species basically distributed in the Northern Hemisphere that likely originated in Asia (Wynns et al. 2018). In California, four species are reported in Norris & Shevock (2004). Of these, most if not all of California collections attributed as Plagiothecium laetum Bruch & Schimp. have been determined not to represent this species. What the phylogenetic study of Wynns et al. (2018) determined is that the plants along the Pacific West most often named in herbaria as P. laetum represent a new species with the officially published name Plagiothecium pacificum T. J. Wynns. An excellent illustration of P. pacificum is provided in Wynns et al. (2018).

Another interesting species in this genus that also occurs in California is Plagiothecium piliferum (Sw. ex C.J. Hartm.) Bruch & Schimp. Morphologically, it is an anomaly within Plagiothecium since its leaves have a long piliferous acumen whereas the other members of this genus lack this obvious feature. In Huttunen et al. (2013), based on their phylogenetic analysis, they decided to transfer Plagiothecium piliferum into a new monospecific genus as Rectithecium. However, Wynns et al. (2018) took a different approach by keeping P. piliferum within Plagiothecium but establishing a new section Rectithecium to accommodate this unusual moss. So in this case as in many others, the molecular data offers two different ways to deal with this issue of rank. Here we are back to a variation on the lumping or splitting scenario. So based on these phylogenetic studies, does one take the view by adding a new section in a genus to accommodate an unusual member, or carve it out as a new genus? The great thing is that each bryologist gets to decide on the circumscription of taxa and the rank to apply among the validly published names available. Since I have collected Plagiothecium piliferum in the field, it at least to me does not have the gestalt of a Plagiothecium, so I will be using Rectithecium as the name for this moss. So for some groups based on the amount of genetic evidence presented, I am more inclined to accept these new placements (like the generic splits out of Orthotrichum), but where others only have received limited sampling, especially within large genera, I desire more data and additional phylogenetic studies that contain a broader suite of taxa examined before I’m ready to accept the name change.

The genera now proposed to be within the family Plagiotheciaceae is also changing. Huttunen et al. (2013), based on their phylogenetic analysis, added several genera previously aligned within the Hypnaceae into the Plagiotheciaceae, a family now viewed as containing nine genera. Among California mosses, the Plagiotheciaceae now includes HerzogiellaIsopterygiopsisMyurellaPlagiothecium, Pseudotaxiphyllum and Rectithecium.

Literature Cited

Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2014. Orthotrichum in: Flora of North America North of Mexico, Vol. 28, Bryophyta, part 2, New York & Cambridge.

Huttunen, S., M. S. Ignatov, D. Quandt & L. Hedenäs. 2013. Phylogenetic position and delimitation of the moss family Plagiotheciaceae in the order Hypnales. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 171(2): 330–353.

Lara, F., R. Garilleti, B. Goffinet, I. Draper, R. Medina, B. Vigalondo & V. Mazimpaka. 2016. Lewinskya, a new genus to accommodate the phanerocarpous and monoicous taxa of Orthotrichum (Bryophyta, Orthotrichaceae). Crytogamie, Bryologie 37(4): 361–382.

Norris, D.H. & J.R. Shevock. 2004. Contributions toward a bryoflora of California. I. A specimen based catalogue of mosses. Madroño 51(1): 1–135.

Vigalondo, B., I Draper, V. Mazimpaka, J.A. Calleja, F. Lara & R. Garilleti. 2020. The Lewinskya affinis complex (Orthotrichaceae) revisited: species description and differentiation. The Bryologist 123(3): 454–481.

Wynns, J.T., K. Rysbjerg Munk & C. B. Asmussen Lange 2018 [2017]. Molecular phylogeny of Plagiothecium and similar hypnalean mosses with a revised section classification of Plagiothecium. Cladistics 34(5): 469–501. 

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