The Archidiaceae include a single genus of nearly cosmopolitan distribution. Archidium has about 26 species worldwide, while only one endemic species occurs in N.Z. The family is considered to be strongly isolated among the true mosses because of certain morphological features of the developing capsule. Mature capsules are globose, thin-walled, lack both a columella and stomata, and enclose a few large and single-celled spores.
Archidium elatum is one of least known mosses in the N.Z. flora, occurring on coastal rocks, especially basalt. It has been documented only from a single North I. locality (where it is possibly extinct), one inshore island group, and Chatham I. Unfortunately it is known only from non-fruiting material; the highly inconspicuous A. elatum is best recognised by its coastal habitat, the presence of numerous innovative branches arising in clusters from old perichaetia, the zig-zag appearance of its stems, and its widely spreading and strongly costate leaves. Under the microscope, short-rectangular or quadrate cells that extend some distance up the lower leaf margins are among its more distinctive features.
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