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Published In: Die Natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien I(3): 436. 1902. (Nat. Pflanzenfam.) Name publication detailView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

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The leaves in S. cataractae are usually acute to short-acuminate (at times rounded-acute), lack a marginal border of thick-walled, colored cells, and have distinctly enlarged, bulging cells near the costa in the lower 2/3 to 3/4 of leaf. This last feature is also found in S. ligulata.

Although S. cataractae and S. ligulata intergrade in a number of their features, they can be variably separated by examining their axillary hairs and costal cross-sections. The axillary hairs  in S. ligulata are 2–3 cells long, while those of S. cataractae are 5–6 cells long; the costa of S. cataractae has a ventral layer of enlarged epidermal cells above the guide cells, while in S. ligulata the costal guide cells are ventrally exposed..

Scopelophila cataractae appears to be able to survive on heavy-metal enriched substrates. As a result the species ranges in North America and Europe have recently been expanding (see Shaw & Beer 1989) with many of its new sites occurring on the tailings from abandoned mines.

Illustrations: Bartram (1924, Pl. 11); Bartam (1928b, Fig. 1 A–H); Grout (1939, Pl. 113, A); Zander (1967, Figs. 1–9); Gangulee (1972, Fig. 367, as Merceya gedeana); Crum and Anderson (1981, Fig. 121); Corley and Perry (1985, Fig. 1); Noguchi (1988, Fig. 136 B); Norris and Koponen (1989, Figs. 17 a–e); Zander (1993, Pl. 47 8–12); Sharp et al. (1994, Fig. 277). Figure 69.
Habitat: On soil; 1500–2500 m.
Distribution in Central America: GUATEMALA. Chiquimula: Steyermark 30977 (F); Quezaltenango: Steyermark 34977 (F, NY).
World Range: Northeastern, Southwestern, South-Central, and Southeastern U.S.A.;  Mexico; Central America; Western South America; Northern, Middle, and Southwestern Europe; China, Eastern Asia; West Central Tropical Africa; Indian Subcontinent, Malesia.


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Scopelophila cataractae (Mitt.) Broth., Nat. Pflanzenfam. 1(3): 436. 1902.

Weissia cataractae Mitt., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 12: 135. 1869. Hyophila cataractae (Mitt.) Jaeg., Ber. Thätigk. St. Gallischen Naturwiss. Ges. 1871–72: 358. 1873. Merceya cataractae (Mitt.) C. Müll., Gen. Musc. Frond. 384. 1901 [1900]. Protologue: Ecuador. Andes Quitenses, ad rupes humidas secus cataractam Agoyan fluvii Pastasae (5000 ped.), Spruce, n. 45c.

Tortula williamsii Bartr., Bryologist 27: 70. 1924. Protologue: U.S.A. On ledges, White House Canyon, Santa Rita Mts., Arizona. E. B. Bartram, No. 907, February 7 1924, Altitude, 6500 ft.

Merceyopsis mexicana Bartr., J. Wash. Acad. Sci. 18: 577. 1928. Protologue: Mexico. On steep rock, San Sebastian, East of Segundo Arroyo Jalisco, Mexico, 1,500 meters, January 25, 1927, Mrs. Ynes Mexía, no 1568a

Plants small, caespitose, green to yellowish green or brown with age, saxicolous or terricolous. Stems 5–20 mm high, irregularly branched, central strand absent, cortical cells thin-walled, hyaline, uniform throughout; rhizoids scattered on stem, smooth or verrucose. Axillary hairs 5–6 cells long, lower 1–2 cells brown. Leaves 1.5–2.5 mm long, ligulate to lingulate, erect to spreading at base, weakly keeled, flexuose when dry, erect when wet; apices acute to short-acuminate or rounded-obtuse; margins entire, plane above, recurved at base; costa narrow, subpercurrent to percurrent, surface cells rectangular, smooth on both surfaces, median guide cells and single (dorsal) stereid band well-developed, ventral surface layer of enlarged cells present; upper cells rounded-quadrate or oblate, 4–8 x 4–10 μm, firm-walled, smooth to somewhat bulging on both sides, basal cells rectangular, thin-walled, smooth, 14–30 x 12–16 μm, alar cells not differentiated. Dioicous. Perichaetia and perigonia terminal. Setae smooth, 2–5 mm long, yellowish brown. Capsules short-cylindrical, erect, 1.0–1.2 mm long, smooth, yellowish brown; exothecial cells quadrate to rectangular, thin-walled; stomata in neck; opercula rostrate, beak erect, 1 mm long; annuli persistent, clinging to the capsule mouth after dehiscence; peristome absent. Spores 12–14 μm, granulate. Calyptra not seen.



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