Introducing Jaffueliobryum wrightii! Finally I finished up my moss identifications from my field trip to Missouri and Kansas back in March. This is why I don't do much collecting. My collections tend to sit around for quite a while before identifying them makes it to the top of my list of things to do. And unless I have time for identifying them the mosses are best left growing in the wild.
So Jaffueliobryum wrightii is in the moss family Grimmiaceae. A telling feature is that the leaves have long, white awns at the tips. Thus, I jumped directly to the Grimmiaceae for my identifying. The genus Jaffueliobryum is usually found on calcareous rocks. This population was growing on sandstone. It doesn't really have a common name, but the genus was named for Félix Jafuell, a clergyman who collected plants in South America. There are only 3 species in North America. One only in Mexico and the other two are widely distributed across the western United States. So once I identified it to Jaffueliobryum there were only two species to choose from. The other species, Jaffueliobryum raui, has keeled leaves (the same idea as the keel on a boat, they look folded or have a ridge down the center), which can be easily seen after making a leaf cross-section. Since this sample did not have keeled leaves, it was Jaffueliobryum wrightii.
It was a really fun plant to identify and I'm glad I got the chance to spend some time with it under the microscope. Now off to the herbarium this sample goes.
Identification and species information in this post is from the Bryophyte Flora of North America.