Slender thread-moss (Orthodontium gracile)
|Size||Length: up to 10 mm|
Classified as Vulnerable in the UK. Classified as Endangered in Europe.
Slender thread-moss grows in bright green cushions, and closely resembles a much commoner species Orthodontium lineare. It requires an expert to tell them apart, but slender thread-moss has slightly narrower leaves. Mosses are difficult plants to identify, needing knowledge and a scientific field guide to be sure of which species you are looking at.
This moss has a wide world range, being found in western France, North and South America, and tropical Africa. In the UK since 1970, it has been recorded in East Sussex, Cheshire, mid-West Yorkshire and Midlothian.
In the UK, slender thread-moss grows on damp, shaded, vertical, acid rock surfaces, and sometimes in crevices. In France, it is found on sandy soil at the base of trees, and occasionally, on rotting wood. It has very occasionally been recorded on rotting wood in England.
Mosses are plants, but they belong to the lower orders. They do not produce flowers or seeds, but reproduce by spores or vegetatively. Neither do mosses have a vascular system for conveying sap, nor do they have roots to absorb water. Mosses have rhizoids, which fulfil the role of a root system in anchoring the plant to a surface. Water and nutrients are absorbed over the entire surface of the plant.
Never a common species, slender thread-moss may possibly have declined through the introduction of the similar O. lineare. Other factors may be due to changes in the microclimate or acidic water pollution.
Slender thread-moss is listed in the UK Biodiversity Action Plans (UKBAPs), and included in English Nature's Species Recovery Programme (SRP). This moss's existence may be precarious, and all the sites where it is known to occur are protected. It is also being grown
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- Ex-situ: measures to conserve a species or habitat that occur outside of the natural range of the species. E.g. in zoos or botanical gardens.
- Rhizoids: thread-like structures that help to anchor the plant to the substrate, and absorb minerals and water. In liverworts they consist of a single cell, in mosses they are multi-cellular.
- Spores: microscopic particles involved in both dispersal and reproduction. They comprise a single or group of unspecialised cells and do not contain an embryo, as do seeds.
- Vascular system: in plants, the system that allows water and nutrients to move around.
- Vegetative reproduction: type of asexual reproduction (reproduction without recombination of genetic material) that results in the propagation of plants using only the vegetative tissues such as leaves or stems. The resulting plant is genetically identical to the original plant. A well-known example of this is the reproduction of strawberry plants from 'runners'.