Spring is officially here! We've had rains and warmer days and while out walking with my camera on Saturday afternoon I saw the moss has geared up for sexy time.
Mosses as you may or may not know reproduce sexually via spores not seeds There are male parts, antheridia, and female parts, archegonia. They can occur on the same plant but are most likely found on different plants. The antherozoids or sperm are motile, swimming using two theadlike tails and are chemically attracted to the archegonium where fertilisation occurs to create a zygote. It is then that the second phase of the moss reproductive cycle begins with the formation of the sporophyte or spore plant. An interesting fact is that the sporophyte grows out of the archegonium of the female plant by cell division and is effectively a parasite for this phase. The sporophytes have a distinct four-part structure comprised of a foot, a long erect stem called a seta with a capsule at the top which contains the maturing spores. A peaked hood called a calyptra sits atop the capsule. A single sporophyte may contain anywhere between four and one million spores depending on the individual species. It's the sporophyte structures that are prominent in these pictures … these ones are about 15mm tall.
Not that I initially set out to craft a post on moss reproduction this morning but I thought it may … you know … add something to your experience if you knew vaguely what you were looking at. Besides I find it fascinating and it is Spring after all.
You may also notice I'm using a new gallery technique to disply the pictures … like it? Do let me know 🙂