The N.Z. members of the moss family Amblystegiaceae are assigned to sixteen species in twelve genera. Several of the species are conspicuous or dominant plants of wet habitats such as wetland pools, lake and stream margins, and roadside ditches. Several species are wide-spread in the northern hemisphere and occur only at scattered southern hemisphere localities, including N.Z. Like many water-loving plants, species of this predominantly northern hemisphere family are exceedingly variable in form, making their taxonomic circumscription and interpretation difficult. Only one genus (the monotypic Cratoneuropsis) is restricted to the southern hemisphere. Variants of C. relaxa have been in recent decades placed in at least three distinct genera and one variant has even been proposed as the type of a distinct family. Evidence for rejecting these taxonomic interpretations of C. relaxa variants is presented here; the species in N.Z. is considered to consist of several environmentally-induced forms which are unworthy of formal taxonomic recognition.
One amblystegiaceous species (Calliergonella cuspidata) is almost certainly an early European introduction to the N.Z. flora. It is dioicous, frequently produces both sexual structures and sporophytes, and is a common "weed" in disturbed and damp sites throughout most of the three main islands.
However, in several comparatively uncommon species (including Calliergon richardsonii, Campyliadelphus stellatus, Scorpidium cossonii, and Straminergon stramineum), the absence of sexual structures (often a feature of adventive bryophyte taxa) and curious collection histories make their status in the N.Z. flora problematic. All of these species are widespread in the northern hemisphere. Although most populations appear fully-integrated in native wetland vegetation here, this integration appears at odds with their nearly constant lack of reproductive structures and lack of early (i.e. late 19th to early 20th century) N.Z. collections. These shared characteristics suggest that the allegedly indigenous and bipolar status proposed here for these species is equivocal and that our understanding of this family in N.Z. may be incomplete.
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