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Published In: Genera of European and North American Bryineae (Mosses) 7. 1897. (Gen. Eur. N.- Amer. Bryin.) Name publication detail

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 1/10/2014)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project data     (Last Modified On 1/10/2014)

The Meteoriaceae were established by Kindberg (1897) for the genera Papillaria and Meteorium. Brotherus (1906c) expanded the group to include 13 genera, but reduced it to a subfamily of the Neck-eraceae. Although Fleischer (1908) considered the family “Eine sehr natürliche Moosgruppe, his treatment of the Meteoriaceae (15 genera in 2 tribes) established it as a morphologically variable group held together mainly by its often pendent life-form and tropical or subtropical distribution.

The Meteoriaceae are usually placed in the Leucodontales (Fleischer 1908; Brotherus 1925; Walther 1983; Vitt 1984). The family, however, has been transferred to the Hypnales (Buck 1994a) and placed near the Brachytheciaceae, partly because its exostome teeth are often horizontally striate at base; it lacks stolon-like primary stems that are tightly adherent to the substrate; and it has greatly reduced stolon leaves. Buck (1994a, 1994b) also reduced the family by transferring Pilotrichella, Or-thostichella, Weymouthia, and Squamidium to the Lembophyllaceae. Although Allen and Magill (2003) supported the transfer of Pilotrichella, Orthostichella, and Weymouthia into the Lembophyl-laceae, they returned Squamidium to the Meteoriaceae. Quandt and Huttunen (2004), on the basis of a molecular analysis of pendent mosses, support the transfer of Weymouthia into the Lembophyl-laceae. Their analysis, however, indicates Aerolindigia, Squamidium, and Meteoridium should be transferred to the Brachytheciaceae. The position of Orthostichella in their analysis was unresolved. Quandt and Huttunen did not treat Pilotrichella in their study. It seems clear from morphological and molecular evidence that Aerolindigia and Meteoridium belong in the Brachytheciaceae. On other hand, Squamidium is so morphologically different (e.g., linear, entirely papillose exostome teeth, im-mersed capsules, mitrate calyptra, plants with an intense black coloration, and faint costae), that its placement in the Brachytheciaceae is difficult to accept.

The Meteoriaceae are one of the most challenging families of mosses to characterize. They are predominantly epiphytic, pleurocarpous mosses that commonly grow pendent, and their gameto-phytes often have an intense blackish coloration. The family typically has creeping stolons with reduced leaves, and erect, evenly foliose secondary stems that lack paraphyllia and have a weak central strand. Its rhizoids are not or weakly branched and come from circular clusters of initials at the abax-ial side of the leaf insertion. The leaves usually have weak single costae. Its leaf cells are firm-walled, occasionally porose, papillose or smooth, and the basal cells in the alar region vary from strongly dif-ferentiated to nearly undifferentiated. The family is dioicous or autoicous, perichaetial leaves are weakly differentiated, capsules are immersed, emergent or long-exserted, and its peristomes are whitish yellow and reduced. The calyptrae are cucullate or mitrate, naked or hairy.


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Plants small, medium-sized, or robust, green, dull green, yellow green, or golden red, at times jet black tinged. Primary stems at times creeping, irregularly pinnately branched, not stipitate; stems in cross section with enlarged epidermis or sclerodermis present, central strand present, rarely absent; paraphyllia absent; pseudoparaphyllia absent, subfoliose, or foliose, scale leaves present; rhizoids not or rarely branched, from clusters of initials abaxial to the leaf insertions. Secondary stems erect or pendent, irregularly pinnately branched, stem and branch tips often attenuate or stoloniferous. Leaves at times dimorphic or trimorphic, lanceolate, ovate-lanceolate, or ovate-triangular, narrowly elliptic, ovate-acuminate, broadly ovate to orbicular, closely or widely spaced, at times apices twisted when dry, varying from strongly plicate to smooth; margins at times serrulate to serrate or crenulate by pro-jecting papillae, rarely entire; upper marginal cells sometimes forming a more or less distinct border, sometimes decurrent, inserted in a straight or U-shaped line; costae single, usually ending 1/3–2/3 the leaf length, at times ending near the apex, at times ending in a small spine, rarely absent or shortly and inconspicuously double, in cross section cells usually homogeneous, thick-walled, rarely with guide cells and single layer of dorsal and ventral stereid cells; cells smooth, unipapillose, or pluripa-pillose, papillae seriate or scattered over the cell lumina; upper cells isodiametric, oval, rhombic, fusiform or linear; median cells linear to linear-fusiform or linear flexuose; basal cells across the in-sertion short-rectangular, more or less enlarged; alar cells weakly or strongly differentiated. Asexual reproduction sometimes by deciduous flagelliform branches or caducous leaves. Dioicous or auto-icous. Vaginulae at times densely hairy. Setae mostly elongate, smooth or papillose. Capsules im-mersed or exserted, erect to inclined, subglobular to ovoid, oblong, ovate-cylindrical, or cylindric-elliptic; stomata rarely absent; exothecial cells with thin or thick walls; opercula obliquely conic to rostrate; annuli rudimentary; peristome diplolepideous; exostome teeth on dorsal (outer) surface cross-striate below, or papillose to smooth throughout; endostome with high or low basal membranes, segments keeled or plane, at times perforate, cilia rudimentary or absent. Spores lightly papillose, uni-or bimodal. Calyptrae cucullate or mitrate, naked or hairy.



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