BFNA Title: Cryptocolea
Author: S. L. Jessup
Date: December 7, 2001
Edit Level: R
Version: 1 Ver. R Brum+ original received July 19, 2001

Bryophyte Flora of North America, Provisional Publication
Buffalo Museum of Science
1020 Humboldt Parkway
Buffalo, NY 14211 USA


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CRYPTOCOLEA R. M. Schuster, Amer. Midland Nat. 49: 417. 1953 Greek kryptos, cryptic and koleos, female sheath, in reference to the short perianth completely hidden by the perichaetial bracts

Steven L. Jessup

Plants prostrate and creeping with short erect apices, loosely julaceous, appearing laterally compressed below the apex, erect and connivent lateral leaves comprising a dorsal keel; shiny, pellucid green to yellow-brown, often suffused with chestnut-brown. Stems sparsely branching by lateral-intercalary innovations arising below or in the axils of perichaetial bracts, occasionally branching by apical bifurcations, branches sometimes reduced, but otherwise undifferentiated. Lateral leaves broadly and obliquely inserted, succubous-transverse, alternate, antically secund, loosely to tightly imbricate; orbicular to broadly ovate, 0.4--0.8 mm, adaxially concave in the center, margins entire, involute; apical leaves valvate and tightly appressed, weakly recurved to squarrose or broadly reflexed in distal third; leaf cells roughly isodiametric, (20--)25--35(--45) mm, thin walled, trigones small, weakly developed or absent, oil bodies typically 3--5, irregularly botryoidal. Ventral leaves absent. Specialized asexual reproduction absent. Sexual condition dioicous. Androecia terminal as a short spike; antheridia 1--2 per bract, stalk biseriate. Gynoecia terminal, occasionally appearing dorsal by development of subtending branch innovations; forming distinctive conical, laterally compressed, 2-valvate heads, 3--4 mm; gynoecial bracts broadly ovate in 2--4 labiate pairs; perianth entirely concealed by bracts, short tubular, loosely and irregularly plicate, mouth crenulate to distinctly lobed, open to weakly pursed; basal to of perianth fused with base of gynoecial bracts to form a short thickened perigynium centered on stem axis. Sporophytes rare. Foot embedded in stem tissue below perigynium base. Seta with exterior layer of about 18--25 cells, walls slightly thickened; cortical cells thin-walled, otherwise undifferentiated. Capsule dark red-brown. Elaters contorted, 7--10 mm wide, 2-spiraled, attenuate at tips. Spores 14--16(--19) m, granulose, red-brown.

Species 1 (1 in the flora); known from a few widely scattered locations in the Arctic and from the disjunct type locality on islands in northern Lake Superior.

Cryptocolea is a phylogenetically isolated member of the Jungermanniaceae, apparently not closely related to any other lineage in the flora. Cryptocolea is probably most closely related to the narrowly endemic and little-known Himalayian genus Diplocolea (T. Amakawa 1963).

SELECTED REFERENCES Schuster, R. M. 1969. Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America East of the Hundredth Meridian, Vol. 2. New York.

1. Cryptocolea imbricata R. M. Schuster, Amer. Midland Nat. 49: 417. 1953

Plants isolated or clumped in loose patches, 5--10(-- 15) mm. Stems of main sterile shoots and fertile male plants 0.2--0.3 mm wide; fertile shoots of female plants to 0.5 mm wide; rhizoids numerous, long, weakly clumped below the erect apex, clear to brown or faintly purple. Lateral leaf insertion dorsally transverse with short decurrence along the dorsal midline of axis, lateral insertion long-oblique, ventral insertion transverse; margins frequently decolorous in narrow zone. Sexual condition dioicous, male and female plants forming separate, often widely spaced patches, rarely occurring together. Androecia typically comprising several pairs of tightly imbricate androecial bracts, the inflorescence becoming intercalary with apical growth, often forming fertile branches with successive male inflorescences interrupted by a few vegetative leaves. Gynoecia 2-valvate, labial bracts with weak dorsiventral compression at maturity, interior bracts bearing slime papillae along labial contact surfaces; perianth bearing a few scattered marginal slime papillae. Sporophytes (5--)8--10(--15) mm at maturity. Capsule with 12--18 distinct longitudinal ridges.

Capsules mature in summer (July--Aug.). Mature sporophytes are known only from a single collection. Generally restricted to perennially moist basic substrates, peaty soil over basalt, slopes influenced by meltwater from basalt cliffs, calcareous fens, basic mineral soil and calcareous silt deposits, margins of shallow lakes; 0--600 m; Greenland (R. M. Schuster 1969, 1988); Nun. (Ellesmere Island); n Alaska (Brooks Range), Mich., Minn.; Europe (Norway, Sweden); Asia (Russia in Siberia).

This rare circumarctic species is disjunct in a narrow tundra zone along shorelines of a few islands in northern Lake Superior--Susie I., Minnesota, and Apostle I., Michigan (R. M. Schuster 1969), and should be sought in similar refugial habitats elsewhere in the boreal latitudes. Known outside the flora area from Chukoskiy Peninsula in Siberia (R. N. Schljakov 1975), Spitzbergen, and Swedish Lapland (J. A. Paton 1999). Cryptocolea imbricata is most likely to be confused with Arnellia fennica. Though similar in habit, size, leaf-shape, and color, Arnellia is never shiny, has distinctly opposite lateral leaves, and ventral leaves that are easily revealed. A few misidentified collections are Nardia geoscyphus, which, though also laterally compressed, is distinctly smaller in all respects, and has prominent trigones and well developed ventral leaves.


Amakawa, T. 1963. New or little known Asiatic species of the family Jungermanniaceae. I. J. Hattori Bot. Lab. 26: 20--26.

Paton, J. A. 1999. The Liverwort Flora of the British Isles. Colchester, U.K.

Schljakov, R. N. 1975. Addimenta ad floram hepaticarum arcticae URSS. Novosti Sist. Nizhsh. Rast. 1975: 318--323.

Schuster, R. M. 1953. Boreal Hepaticae. A Manual of the Liverworts of Minnesota and Adjacent Regions. Amer. Midland Nat. 49: 257-684.

Schuster, R. M. 1988. The Hepaticae of South Greenland. Beiheft zur Nova Hedwigia, Heft 92. Berlin.

Steere, W. C. and H. Inoue. 1978. The Hepaticae of Arctic Alaska. J. Hattori Bot. Lab. 44: 251--45.

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