Sphaerocarpos (NL: Blaasjesmos / EN: bottle liverwort) is a genus of mosses known as bottle liverworts or Balloonworts. In Belgium there are two species in this genus: S.michelii and S.texanus. Sphaerocarpos species are not likely to be confused with other liverworts but determination of the species is not easy. Both species can only be distinguished from each other by microscopical examination of their spores. These species form a tiny, disc-like thallus which bears densely packed, balloon-like structures that surround the sex organs and spore bodies. Female plants grow up to 2 cm across, and the balloon-like structures are inflated and pear-shaped (up to 1.8 mm across). These structures are flask-shaped and smaller on male plants. The capsules are hidden in the female structures, and need to be collected ripe for identification. Since this specimen did not have ripe spores yet, it is impossible to tell the exact species. Male plants are less likely to be detected because they are much smaller (up to 5 mm across) than females, and often dark. In addition, the bigger female plants may partly grow over them. The male organs are surrounded by flask-shaped tubes less than 0.5 mm tall.
Image taken with 150mm macro + 2.0x extender. Covered area of the image is about 11mm x 7 mm
Image: Schoten (BE) - 13/02/2011
© Johan Dierckx
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