categoryZMosses Mosses List 

GREATER WATER-MOSS

Fontinalis antipyretica

Water-moss Family [Fontinalaceae]

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category8Mosses

3rd June 2012, Marton Locks, T&M Canal. Photo: © RWD
Hanging down in great llianas attached to the lock-sides below full water level. The slow flow of the water in and out and the resultant aeriation and flow of nutrients encourages growth. It was in all four of Marton Locks.


3rd June 2012, Marton Locks, T&M Canal. Photo: © RWD
With length often exceeding 15cm it is one of our longest aquatic mosses.


3rd June 2012, Marton Locks, T&M Canal. Photo: © RWD
The only way to obtain photographs of it here is from a narrow boat, which refuses to keep still in a turbulent emptying lock. Its also fairly dark down here on a rainy day, necessitating a slow shutter speed and wide aperture ill conducive to macrophotography..


3rd June 2012, Marton Locks, T&M Canal. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are distinctive, being elliptic and strongly turned downwards. They arranged in three rows at 60° apart on the stem, and when wet separate to show as 'saw-teeth'.


3rd June 2012, Marton Locks, T&M Canal. Photo: © RWD
Here the jagged teeth opened out and set in three columns at 60° apart on the stem. When dry and the leaves close-up it takes on the shape of a (tapering) triangular prism.


Some similarities to : Alpine Water-moss (Fontinalis squamosa) but that does not have flat leaves as does Greater Water-moss, but rounded leaves only half as long and when closed takes on a cylindrical overall shape rather than a triangular prism.

Slight resemblance to : Filmy Ferns such as Wilson's Filmy Fern (Hymenophyllum wilsonii) and to Holly-leaved Naiad (Najas marina).

No relation to : Water Fern (Azolla filiculoides) [a plant with similar name].

Greater Water-moss grows in lakes, ponds, streams, canals and rivers that have still, slow-flowing or rapidly moving waters. It prefers nutrient-rich and neutral or less acidic waters (Alpine Water-moss prefers more acidic and nutrient-poor waters). It tolerates being out of the water at times, closing up to conserve water. A canal-lock may be ideal for it with the constant churning of water, aeriation of it, and the intermittent flow of fresh nutrients. That being so, it is strange that it does not inhabit most locks, but perhaps that reflects the poor water-quality in many of the canals?

It is widespread throughout the UK with only few hectads where it is not found.


  Fontinalis antipyretica  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Fontinalaceae  
genus8Fontinalis
Fontinalis
(Water-Mosses)

GREATER WATER-MOSS

Fontinalis antipyretica

Water-moss Family [Fontinalaceae]