Funaria hygrometrica

HomeLearningSpecies FinderFunaria hygrometrica

Identification notes

Funaria hygrometrica has a highly variable appearance that is related to its reproductive cycle. As an ephemeral species, it completes its life-cycle in a matter of months and is rarely seen without reproductive structures. Plants are autoicous, so male and female organs are borne on different branches of the same plant.

The main shoot of the gametophyte is the male branch and it bears clusters of reddish-brown antheridia within a rosette of perigonial leaves at the apex. The female branches arise laterally from the base of these shoots. The young sporophyte of Funaria often has an unusual appearance, in which the young green capsules (with the calyptra covering them) sit within a ‘bulb’ of large, concave perichaetial leaves at the base of the shoots before the seta elongates.

Funaria is usually found fruiting abundantly, but it is not widely known that it can also reproduce vegetatively via fragments of protonema, protonemal gemmae and rhizoidal bulbils. No wonder it can colonise recently burnt or disturbed ground so rapidly.

Leaves of Funaria have large, lax, thin-walled cells characteristic of all the species in the Funariaceae family so plants without capsules cannot easily be distinguished from e.g. Entosthodon, Physcomitrium etc.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

Similar Species

When not fruiting, Funaria hygrometrica can be confused with both Physcomitrium  and Entosthodon species which have similar leaves and leaf areolation. One of each is included below as an example.