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Published In: Musci Frondosi Inediti Archipelagi Indici 5: 160. 1848. (Musc. Frond. Ined. Archip. Ind.) Name publication detail

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Meteorium nigrescens is a common moss in Central America, where it grows on a wide variety of habitats. The species is exceedingly variable and its extreme expressions appear to be distinct. There are, however, numerous intermediate forms and, as noted by Bartram (1949), “The variations of this plastic species are legion and I doubt if any practical purpose would be served in trying to segregate them here. When growing on the ground, rocks, or tree trunks the species usually has stiffly erect, plicate leaves and numerous closely spaced branches. This form of the species has ovate-triangular, narrowly acuminate leaves that only rarely end in hyaline hair-points. In epiphytic habi-tats, especially when the plants grow pendent, they are more lax in aspect and have narrowly ovate-lanceolate leaves that often have hyaline hair-points. In some collections the leaves end in long, hyaline capillary hair-points. The stiffly erect form of the species at times has microphyllous flagellate branches that arise in the leaf axils. These flagellate branches can be copiously present. The lax, long hair-pointed form of the species often has strongly caducous leaves resulting in branches and stems that are nearly naked, except for small clusters of leaves at the tips.

Meteorium deppei is usually a larger plant than M. nigrescens, but the two species have similar pendent forms with a lax aspect and leaves that consistently have very long, capillary hair-points. Me-teorium deppei differs consistently from all forms of M. nigrescens in having elongate to linear cells filling its cordate leaf bases. In M. nigrescens the cells in the cordate leaf bases are subrectangular to rhombic. Meteorium nigrescens, M. laevifolium, and Toloxis imponderosa are all similar in size. These last two species differ from M. nigrescens in having strongly auriculate leaves. In addition, Me-teorium laevifolium has smoothly terete leaves with verruculose-papillose leaf cells. Toloxis impon-derosa further differs from M. nigrescens in having strongly and consistently twisted leaf apices.

Meteorium nigrescens is presently known only from the Western Hemisphere. The species was reported from Java by Dozy and Molkenboer (1848), but Fleischer (1908) considered the collections on which the records are based to be Papillaria leuconeura (Müll. Hal.) A. Jaeger (" Meteorium leu-coneurum). Brotherus (1929) recorded P. nigrescens and P. appressa from China, but Noguchi (1971) considered these collections to be Meteorium papillarioides Nog.

Illustrations: Hedwig (1801, Pl. 65); Schwägrichen (1828, Pl. 244b); Grout (1934, Pl. 63 A–B); Breen (1963, Pl. 106); Florschütz (1964, Fig. 101); Bartram (1949, Fig. 119 C–E); Spessard (1980, Fig. 12); Crum and Anderson (1981, Fig. 383 F–I); Reese (1984, Fig. 44 A–B); Sharp et al. (1994, Fig. 546); Churchill and Linares (1995, Fig. 125 a–g); Duarte Bello (1997, Pl. 200); Buck (1998, Pl. 104); Buck (2003, Fig. 124). Figure 41.
Habitat: On tree roots, trunks, branches, twigs, vines, fallen branches, logs, roof thatch, soil banks, rocks, boulders, and cement culvers, sea level to 1800 m.
Distribution in Central America:

. BELIZE. Belize: Lundell 1980 (FH); Cayo: Allen 18011 (BRH, MO); Stann Creek: Gentle 2140 (FH); Toledo: Allen 18754 (MO). GUATEMALA. Alta Verapaz: Croat 41505 (GUAT, MO, NY); Baja Verapaz: Sharp 2895 (FH, MO); Huehuetenango: Steyermark 49654 (F, FH); Izabal: Jones & Facey 3348 (FH, MO, NY); Jutiapa: Standley 75553 (F, FH); Petén: Lundell 2123 (FH, MO, US); Quetzaltenango: Spellman et al. B111c (MO); Quiché: Sharp 2549 (FH); Retalhuleu: Standley 87886 (F, FH); Santa Rosa: Standley 78188 (F, FH); Zacapa: Croat 41872 (GUAT, NY, MO). EL SALVADOR. San Salvador: Standley 22456a (US). HONDURAS. Atlántida: Allen 17286 (MO, TEFH); Comayagua: Allen 13736 (MO, TEFH); Copán: Allen 17703 (MO, TEFH); Cors: Croat 42763 (MO, NY, TEFH, US); El Parso: Molina & Molina 27895B (F, MO); Francisco Morazán: Standley 15037 (F); La Paz: Allen 14551 (FH, MO, TEFH); Lempira: Allen 11165 (MO, TEFH); Olancho: Allen 12432 (MO, TEFH); Santa rbara: Allen 11809 (FH, MO, TEFH); Yoro: Allen 13574 (MO, TEFH). NICARAGUA. Boaco: Stevens 5912 (HNMN, MO, NY); Chontales: Stevens 2860B (MO); Estelí: Stevens 16292 (MO, HNMN); Granada: Cerda & Moreno GC-1519 (DUKE, MO); Jinotega: Stevens 16451 (MO); Madriz: Moreno 2841 (MO); Managua: Standley 8149 (F); Masaya: Standley & Garnier 8118 (F); Matagalpa: Guzmán & Castro 1410 (F, HNMN, MO, NY, US); Zelaya: Pipoly 4570 (MO, HNMN). COSTA RICA. Alajuela: Liesner 4740b (MO); Cartago: Dodge 3947 (F, FH, MO, US); Guanacaste: Standley & Valerio 45944 (FH, US);


Limón: Croat 43161 (CR, MO); Puntarenas: Crosby 2703 (MO); San José: King C-74-024 (CR, MO, NY). PANAMA. Bocas del Toro: Crosby 4086 (MO); Chiriquí: Croat 26771 (MO, PMA, NY, US); Darién: Allen 8823 (MO).

World Range: Southeastern U.S.A.; Mexico; Central America; Caribbean; Western, Northern, and Southern South America, Brazil.


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Plants slender to medium-sized, green or yellow green, often jet black tinged, in stiff or soft tufts, mats, or pendent masses. Stems erect, horizontal or pendent, irregularly to pinnately branched, stem and branch tips at times attenuate, not stipitate, to 10 cm long; stems in cross section with scleroder-mis of 2–5 rows of small, yellow or red brown, thick-walled cells, cortical cells enlarged, yellow to hyaline, firm-walled, central strand weakly developed; paraphyllia absent; pseudoparaphyllia foliose, cells papillose; rhizoids in dense groups, reddish brown, smooth, not branched, from circular clusters of initials abaxial to the leaf insertions; axillary hairs 4–6 cells long, 1–2 short, brown, basal cells and 3–4 short, rounded, hyaline, upper cells. Stem leaves somewhat larger and broader than branch leaves with more strongly cordate bases; branch leaves typically erect-appressed when dry, but occasionally leaves loosely spreading, to wide-spreading when wet, typically ovate-triangular, at times lanceolate, 1.1–1.7 mm long, gradually short- to long-acuminate, at times with long, hyaline hair-points, con-cave, shallowly plicate, cordate at base, decurrent; margins plane or with erect to narrowly recurved upper margins, entire throughout or with projecting papillae above, crenulate at base; costae single, ending at midleaf, in cross section cells with superficial guide cells somewhat enlarged, other cells homogeneous and thick-walled; cells densely pluripapillose with 3–7 papillae scattered over the cell lumina, upper cells rhombic to linear, firm-walled, 8–26 # 3–5 µm, median cells fusiform to linear; basal cells near costa linear, more or less smooth; cells in cordate base rhombic to fusiform, median cells at insertion short-rectangular, smooth; alar cells quadrate to subquadrate, smooth, thick-walled. Asexual reproduction by deciduous flagelliform branches or caducous leaves. Dioicous. Perigonia lateral, gemmate, to 1 mm long. Perichaetia lateral, 1–1.5 mm long; paraphyses numerous, becoming thick-walled and bi- to multiseriate. Vaginulae densely hairy. Setae long, flexuose, yellowish red, slightly roughened, 5–8 mm long. Capsules erect, elliptic to short-cylindric, 2.0–2.5 mm long; exothecial cells oblate in 3–5 rows at mouth, lower cells short-rectangular to subquadrate, firm-walled, not collenchymatous; stomata superficial on neck; opercula obliquely long-rostrate, 0.7–1.3 mm long; annuli rudimentary, of quadrate, thick-walled cells; peristome diplolepideous, yellowish white; exostome teeth narrowly triangular, papillose throughout, median line thickened; endostome papillose, basal membranes low, segments linear, not perforate, cilia absent or rudimentary. Spores ir-regularly rounded, lightly papillose, 14–30 µm. Calyptrae cucullate, densely hairy, 2.0–2.5 mm long.



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